Where “A Day of Fun” Is A Crime

In a May 7 article, Haaretz reporter Ilana Hammerman described in dramatic detail a crime she had methodically planned and committed. In defiance of laws supposedly related to Israel’s security, Hammerman picked up three teenage Palestinian girls in their village in the West Bank, took them through the Betar checkpoint, and drove them into Tel Aviv. There they ate ice cream, visited the mall and museum, and played in the sea. Even though the girls lived just a few kilometers from the beach, Israel’s military occupation had prevented them from ever visiting it before their illegal “day of fun.”

Hammerman wrote in her account of the experience, “If There Is A Heaven:”

“The end was wonderful. The last photos show them about two hours after the trip to the flea market, running in the darkness on Tel Aviv’s Banana Beach. They didn’t want to stop for even a minute at the restaurant there to have a bite to eat or something to drink, or even to just relax a bit. Instead they immediately removed their sandals again, rolled up their pants and ran into the water. And ran and ran, back and forth, in zig-zags, along the huge beach, ponytails flying in the wind. From time to time, they knelt down in the sand or crowded together in the shallow water to have their picture taken. The final photo shows two of them standing in the water, arms around each others’ waists, their backs to the camera. Only the bright color of their shirts contrasting with the dark water and the sky reveals that the two are Yasmin and Aya, because Lin was wearing a black shirt.”

But the fun ended as soon as a group called The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel filed a request with Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein demanding that Hammerman be prosecuted for breaking the country’s “Law of Entry to Israel” forbidding Israelis from assisting Palestinians in entering Israel. If Weinstein agrees to the request, Hammerman could face as much as two years in prison.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel was founded by a religious nationalist settler named Nachi Eyal. When I reached Eyal on the phone, he maintained to me that his concern related strictly to Hammerman’s disregard for the rule of law. “She broke the law and she made a report about her breaking of the law,” Eyal told me. “She wanted everyone to know that you can take Palestinians in against the law and lie to police officers and the Army. I want to send a message that no citizen in Israel can take the law into his hands and if he does they have to pay.”

Radical Right settler Nachi Eyal is leading the campaign to prosecute Haaretz reporter Ilana Hammerman

Radical Right settler Nachi Eyal is leading the campaign to prosecute Haaretz reporter Ilana Hammerman

However, a glance at Eyal’s past campaigns and statements reveal his targeting of Hammerman as part of a broader agenda that has less to do with the rule of law than with opening a new phase in the settlement movement’s political agenda. A former aide to settlement founding father Chanan Porat, Eyal founded his Legal Forum in 2004 to combat the Israeli government’s planned evacuation of the radical Gush Katif settlement from the Gaza Strip. In recent years, the Legal Forum has focused its efforts increasingly inside the Green Line, ramping up the pressure against Palestinian citizens of Israel and anyone who advocates on their behalf.

Eyal has boasted of his latest campaign to push Jewish settlement activity in coastal cities of Israel like Jaffa, Akko and Haifa which maintain sizable communities of Palestinian citizens of Israel. He claimed he has “encouraged Jews not to put up ‘for sale’ signs in these areas in order to dissuade Arabs from buying up these properties.” The Legal Forum is also intent on preventing Palestinian Israelis from building on their own land. “We are mapping Israel’s land resources, investigating illegal Arab building sites and filing suits against such building,” Eyal has said.

The Legal Forum is a prominent player in right-wing efforts to disqualify Palestinian-Israeli legislators from the Knesset. In May, when Balad MK Jamal Zahalka made anti-Zionist statements during a speech in Ramallah, Eyal called on the government of Israel to revoke his citizenship. “If a member of Knesset goes to the enemy and says bad things about Israel they must pay for this,” Eyal insisted to me. “Israeli democracy must have weapons to preserve the democracy or it will be destroyed.”

In another recent campaign, Eyal attacked a military investigation of an Army colonel who publicly justified his use of torture techniques to compel Palestinian detainees into confessions. The investigation “ties the IDF’s hands during the war on terrorism,” Eyal said, “and helps the terrorists.” Eyal’s Legal Fund spearheaded the campaign to suppress a book, “The House of Dajani,” that portrayed the early Zionists in unflattering terms. His efforts led to the reversal of a decision to award the book the Sapir Prize, Israel’s most prestigious literary award.

Now Eyal’s efforts are focused on ensuring that Hammerman’s kindness does not go unpunished — “they have to pay,” as he said. The Attorney General has ordered the police to open an investigation of Hammerman and Eyal is confident that case will proceed to the next stage.

“I think we will succeed because [Hammerman] broke the law and she made a lot of noise,” Eyal remarked. “Israel will not allow these kinds of things to continue.”

14 thoughts on “Where “A Day of Fun” Is A Crime

  1. walt kovacs

    so now it comes out…max does not believe that israel has the right to control its borders…thanks max

  2. Pingback: Where kindness is a crime — War in Context

  3. walt kovacs


    no…the idiocy and hypocracy are what is mind boggling

    if i want to go to tj…i have to show a passport

    should i have someone drive me around the checkpoint…both they and i have committed a crime

    before 2002, it wouldnt have been a problem for those two lovely girls to have taken a day trip to tel aviv….know what happened???

    a few guys (and some gals) chose instead to take day trips which turned into suicide bombings

    so now…fun time is over

    stop trying to dictate the policies of another country from the comfort of your air conditioned home

  4. Pingback: WHERE DAY OF FUN  | Shoah

  5. stevelaudig

    and it once upon a time, not so long ago, it was a crime to teach a slave to read in parts of the U.S. and for whites and non-whites to marry in South Africa and the U.S. The Israeli state is placing itself in fine company. The latter crimes were “miscegnation” which were about “protecting the borders” of race. Go Max, go!

  6. walt kovacs

    gosh steve…way to compare apples to oranges

    like i said, the story may not be true…but to even jokingly compare it to apartheid laws and the slave south is truly absurd

    but here is what you can do

    go to israel…find a family who lost a child in a suicide bombing…then tell them that the security of their country’s border is an act of apartheid

  7. PeaceNJustice66


    Regarding borders, I’m confused about your logic. Is the West Bank part of Israel or not? If it is, then these little girls have every right to go to the beach in Tel Aviv. If it’s not, then what right does the IDF have to patrol who goes in and out of the West Bank? How can the IDF have the authority, for instance, to refuse to allow Noam Chomsky to enter the West Bank from Jordan to speak at Bir Zeit University? If the West Bank is not part of Israel and is therefore a border that needs to be guarded, then how do Israeli settlers get to build towns there with Israeli tax money and with IDF protection?

    There are Israelis who lost children in suicide bombings who oppose the occupation and the apartheid wall. Don’t believe me? Go to the website for the Circle Family Forum. By the same token, there are Palestinians who have also lost their children who continue to want to build peace. There are those who want to purse conflict, and there are those who want to pursue reconciliation and peace. Those are the two sides of the conflict.

    People who put their time and energy into having women arrested and charged with a crime for bringing some little girls to the beach are on the side of those who want to pursue conflict. Which side are you on, Walt?

  8. walt kovacs

    hey peace,

    parts of the west bank are indeed israel and parts are not

    if you ever went there, you would see that…as there are signs showing what is under the pa and what is not

    but all you do is go to sites like maxie babies so you can hold your myopic view of the world

    and the circle family forum is made up of both israelis and arabs

    here are their long term goals

    The long-term goals of the Families Forum are to promote reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian societies.

    The Families Forum aims to play a crucial role in spearheading a reconciliation process between Israelis and Palestinians. Such a process will allow both sides to come to terms with past suffering. The reconciliation process will provide a firm basis for the difficult measures a future agreement will include, by recognizing responsibility of both sides for the past.

    By allowing both Israelis and Palestinians to come to terms with the consequences of the escalating violence, both sides will begin to change their beliefs, which are at the root of the conflict. Currently the parties are too immersed in their own pain to be willing to acknowledge the other’s suffering. By acknowledging the personal narratives of victims of both sides, a new chapter in the relations between the sides may, at last, begin. Past activities of the Families Forum have generated empathy for bereaved families of the opposing side, by gradually exposing both societies to each other loss.

    Palestinians and Israelis have so far avoided recognizing the pain of the other side. A reconciliation process initiated by the Families Forum can put victims, who refuse to revenge their loss and choose to reconcile at the forefront of public awareness. In doing so it will humanize both sides and will act as an example to the Israeli and Palestinian people.

    amazing…nothing about the security wall or the status of the west bank

  9. Cappy


    I find it simultaneously hilarious and ironic when people like yourself use words like “myopic” and “naive” in reference to others’ geopolitical perspectives…

    But in reality those words are just code to mask your contempt for anyone not on your ideological plane.

  10. poyani

    I fully agree with walt kovacs.

    Israel has every right to police its (undefined) border against the lesser races (if Palestinians even qualify as humans).

    The Palestinians of course (given that they don’t count as humans) have no such right, and their borders can be openly violated by the state of Israel as it implants settlers into their land.

    Thank god we have groups like the Legal Forum, to protect the racially pure settlements, from the Palestinian squatters.

    It’s like IDF Army Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan said, the Palestinians are “drugged cockroaches in a bottle” and cockroaches have no rights. No right to self-determination, no right to security or safety, no right to even live. The proper way to deal with cockroaches is to crush them under your boot.

    And don’t go comparing apples and oranges. Never mind that Aparthied is literally the dutch word for “seperation” and that Israel is currently in the process of what it calls the “seperation fence” all throughout the West Bank. Israel is nothing like an Apartheid state. As South African anti-Apartheid activist Bishop Desmond Tutu said, it’s clearly much worse.

  11. walt kovacs


    thanks for continuing to prove that the line between todays progressive and a stormfronter is getting thinner and thinner

    keep pulling those made up quotes from neo nazi websites…thank you

    it isnt apartheid when israel proper is multicultural

    it isnt apartheid when the arabs could have had a state in 48 and chose instead to attack israel

    it isnt apartheid when the arabs could have had a state in 2000 and instead decided to start the second intifada

    want apartheid? why dont you ask the pa why a person who sold land to israel just got 10 years?

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