Israeli student detained at East Midlands airport

Neriya Ashwal, 28, was told ‘you are not detained but if you choose to go we will detain you’


Neriya Ashwal is working towards an MBA in Barcelona and had been visiting the UK for a weekend away when he was held by counter-terror officers (Photo: Facebook)

An Israeli visiting the UK has warned IDF veterans about travel to Britain after he was held at East Midlands Airport by counter-terror police.

A business student in Barcelona, Neriya Ashwal, 28, landed at the East Midlands Airport from Spain last Friday for a weekend trip.

When UK border guards saw his Israeli passport, they asked Ashwal if had recently been in Israel – he had been there three weeks ago to visit family and friends.

The border officer then called over the counter-terror unit who took Ashwal to an interrogation room, where he was allegedly told: "You did nothing wrong. But you are coming from a war zone, and we want to have a little chat. You are not detained. You are free to go. But if you choose to go, we will detain you".

The Israeli was asked: "Were you in the army? Were you a fighter?”

When he said he had served in an Intelligence unit, officers asked him, “’ Were you in the field? [...] When you were in Israel did you have any role in the army?"

They asked Ashwal for proof of his weekend plans, including his accommodation and a bus ticket to London, as well as his return flight ticket.

Ashwal told the JC, “I didn't think that being an Israeli who visited Israel could be the red flag needed for questioning.”

“It's very disturbing to detain someone only because he is an Israeli who visited Israel. It might be because of [a] twisted point of view about what Israel is doing in Gaza during this war.”

He added that the border control officers “were not rude or anything like that.”

“They said that they don't have any problem with me specifically, but ‘there are others that come here with different intentions.’”

His journey was delayed for approximately one hour.

In a public post on Facebook, the Israeli warned, “Are you Israelis planning to fly to Britain? Think twice, especially if you are a veteran. You may be delayed.”

Following the incident, Ashwal wrote to Israel's ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, and mentioned the similar case of two Nova survivors, the Sharabi brothers, who were detained at Manchester airport in March.

"If there is an order/policy/or even a local initiative by the border control officers to detain and question any Israeli who leaves the military or an Israeli who has recently visited Israel, this is a disturbing phenomenon that Israel should recognize and address in the official channels,” he wrote in Hebrew. He also sent a copy of the letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Israel Katz.

The Home Office and East Midlands Airport have been approached for comment.

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