In a bizarre incident related to a bizarre court order, an Australian citizen has been barred from leaving the country for almost the next 8,000 years. He has been trapped in Israel since 2013.
“Noam Huppert (44) is officially barred from leaving the country until December 31 in the year 9999 – effectively an 8,000-year prison sentence – or until he pays more than USD 3 million in future child support payments,” reported the Australian media outlet.
While talking to the media outlet, Huppert stated that he is one among the thousands of foreign men to fall victim to a little-known local divorce law, that has been dubbed as “draconian and excessive” by human rights activists.
The wife had returned to her country in 2011 and Huppert moved to Israel in 2012 to stay closer to his two children.
His wife filed a divorce suit and an Israeli court issued a “stay on exit” order against Huppert due to his “future debt” of 5000 Israeli shekels per month, until both children turn 18.
“The total in the year 2013 was roughly USD 3.34 million,” he said.
He works as an analytical chemist for a pharmaceutical company and is not allowed to leave the country even for holidays or work.
Persecution By Israeli Justice System
“Australian citizens have been persecuted by the Israeli ‘justice’ system only because they were married to Israeli women. I am one of them. I want “to help other Australians who may suffer this literally life-threatening experience,” Huppert said.
The State Department in the US has even warned travellers of the potential issue and notifies its citizens in its Israel travel advisory that civil and religious courts in Israel “actively exercise their authority to bar certain individuals, including nonresidents, from leaving the country until debts or other legal claims against them are resolved.
The State Department, in a Section titled “court jurisdiction”, says, “Israel’s religious courts exercise jurisdiction over all citizens and residents of Israel in cases of marriage, divorce, child custody, and child support.”
“US citizens, including those without Israeli citizenship, should be aware that they may be subject to involuntary and prolonged stays (and even imprisonment) in Israel if a case is filed against them in a religious court, even if their marriage took place in the United States, and regardless of whether their spouse is present in Israel,” it adds.
The Section also stated that the US Embassy is unable to cancel the debt of a US citizen or guarantee their departure from Israel when they face a bar from leaving the country until debts are resolved.
Men Suffering In Silence And Shame
An independent British journalist, Marianne Azizi has also been campaigning to aware more people about the issue and stated that there is no exact figure regarding the affected man but there are hundreds of such victims.
While working against the issue, she could not get the exact number but got to know from the British embassy that they were getting around 100 enquiries a month.
Her fight started when her own husband got trapped in Israel when he visited to see his children there. Azizi also published a book “Sour Milk and Stolen Honey” which describes her experience with the Israeli justice system. “I was later to learn that men were suffering in silence and shame, The subject was taboo,” she wrote.
While writing for “No Exit Order”, Director Sorin Luca claimed that such orders are almost unheard of in the West, nor used by any countries in the manner it is exercised in Israel.
He said, “A woman can easily put a travel ban on the father, with a demand for child support which can extend to the entire duration of the childhood.”
“Once a father has the order, he can be imprisoned for up to 21 days, whether he has the ability to pay or not – without any investigation of his finances. Men are expected to pay 100 per cent or even more of their income to pay for their children,” he added.