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A Shin Bet spokesperson did not respond to Al Jazeera s requests for comment. The agency told the Israeli newspaper Ha aretz that Kayyal traveled with documents issued by the Palestinian Authority, and that he admitted knowing that visiting Lebanon was a crime.
Kayyal said the state will probably drop the more serious charge of contacting a foreign agent, which carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence. He still could face indictment for visiting an enemy state , a crime that carries a maximum of four years in prison.
This charge was made in order to put pressure on him, to punish him, said Sawsan Zaher, one of the Adalah lawyers representing Kayyal, and to send a message to other Palestinian youth not to try this.
Israelis are forbidden from visiting Lebanon and several other countries under emergency regulations dating back to 1948. Citizens can apply for permits to visit, but the interior ministry rarely grants them to Palestinians, except in rare humanitarian cases.
Kayyal and Zaher said the case highlights a double standard: Jewish Israeli journalists have traveled to Lebanon and Syria to report in recent years, and faced little more than brief questioning by Shin Bet officials upon their return.
Palestinians make up approximately 20 percent of the Israeli population, numbering about 1.7 million.
They say we are citizens, but in fact Israel sees us as enemies, Kayyal said. Any relations in this space, in the Arab world, they see them as a crime… but this is our historic and cultural space, you cannot take us out of it.
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