Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

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Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Philagain48 on Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:17 am

Israel is big on security. Think about it and you’ll totally get why. It’s something that is nearly impossible to miss on a daily basis. They’re also fairly notorious for their rather difficult border crossings, particularly if you have one of many potential “suspect” stamps, primarily from any Arab country. After 6 weeks in the region, I’d started adapting to these stringent procedures. I mean, surely I’d seen everything right? Wrong.

I’d been warned that flying out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) can be a rather difficult process. Matt from LandLopers wrote about his experience being escorted to the gate there last year. So knowing this, I arrived at the airport a full 3.25 hours before my flight was due to depart. Little did I know, it would take me 2 hours just to clear the various levels of security and get stamped out of the country…


An Advance Warning

“They might ask you some questions,” our taxi driver warned us as we approached a gate on the highway. “For security reasons,” he added. The first wave was upon us, though this person simply chatted with the taxi driver in Hebrew and waved us on.

The real experience started in the terminal itself, where you are directed to one of four check-in areas based on the airline you’re flying. From there, you immediately get in a line, which is where the real fun begins! First…
The Interview

Little did I know that a few questions could have such a huge effect on my day… But I was ready for whatever the friendly, nice, young gentlemen could throw at me.

“Where are you going,” he asked?
“New York via Kiev,” I replied.

“Do you have any family in Israel?”
“Not as far as I know…”

“Did anyone give you anything to bring back with you,” he inquired?
“No.”

“So your bag hasn’t left your sight?
“No.”

“Who packed your bag?”
“I did.”

“Is this your first time in Israel?
“Sort of, I went in and out 3 times to visit Egypt and Jordan.”

“Egypt? Is that safe right now?”
“Yes. I went to Cairo and you’d never know anything was happening outside of Tahrir Square.”

“Hmmm. What brought you to Israel?”
“I came with a Birthright trip.”

“Oh really? Where’s the rest of your group?”
“They left December 18. I extended.”

“Did you come with a community?”
“No.”

“Are you particularly religious?”
“No.”

“High holidays or something?”
“No pretty secular.”
“Like most of Israel then,” he chuckled.

It was all very friendly and cordial. Then he starts questioning me about the validity of my claim…

“How does one get on a Birthright trip?”
“You need to be Jewish between the ages of 18 and 26.”

“Is it just for people who’ve never visited Israel before?”
“No, but you have to have not come to Israel on an educational trip before.”

“Are you sure?”
“Pretty sure.”

“Do you speak any other languages?
“Spanish.”

“What about any Hebrew?”
“No.”

“None at all?”
“I picked up a few words on the trip but that’s all.”

“Sorry to ask again, but who packed your bags?”
“I did.”

And finally, a question I’d hear so many, many times from nearly everyone I’d encounter: “What time is your flight?”

He kept apologizing for asking such “personal questions.” But finally, a barcode was stuck onto my passport and my bag. Little did I know this little number would have such a large effect on my fate.



Luggage Screening

From there, we had to put our bags through a heavy duty scanner, which seemed rather silly since the very next station was a thorough searching of your checked luggage by hand.

Nearly every pocket was opened on my backpack and nearly every object swabbed for explosives. Now, I’m very organized when I pack and my fantastic 32 liter backpack (which, incidentally, weighs a mere 8.5kg), is full of lots of pockets for storing stuff. While this is great for organization, it’s not good for getting through this process, or repacking my entire bag in a hurry…

“I’m really sorry about all the mess,” the nice young lady who’d gone through my stuff told me, as she waited to escort me to the check-in desk. There I was instructed to bring my backpack to the “special elevator,” to which I was escorted. “Would I ever see my bag again,” I wondered?
Security Checkpoint

From there it was onto security, where they could’ve cared less about seeing my boarding pass or ID. All they were interested in was my barcode, a quick scan of which dictates which security line I go to.

“Line 2,” I was told; a special line that can only be entered by permission. Clearly, I’d told the guy something I shouldn’t have. “What do you have to do to end up in this line,” I jokingly asked the guy in front of me. “Oh be a criminal or something,” he joked back. At least that’s how we felt.

Line 2 should be remembered by the fact that it did not move. At all. I spent roughly 45 minutes in this short line that only kept getting longer behind me. I noticed from the guy who had taken over directing people that one quick glance at the number on the barcode meant he could direct you appropriately.

By the time I finally hit the checkpoint, I knew it would be a thorough check. All electronics had to be removed from the bag, including chargers. Interestingly enough, you did not have to remove your shoes and they lacked those full body scanners that have been taking over at U.S. airports.

On the other side of the metal detector were a few chairs, a somber sign of the lengthy process ahead, where your carry-on baggage was thoroughly searched with the same attention to detail as your checked luggage. Everything was unpacked and swabbed. But much to my surprise, after this process I was waved on, unlike the poor sap who had 3 people going through his luggage in even greater detail!

From there it was onto immigration, one of the most ridiculously easy checkpoints I’d been through, even when leaving Israel by land previously. “What’s your family name,” was the one and only question and before I knew it, I was stamped out and on my way!

The Barcode

I would come to learn from my seatmate that the first digit of your barcode denotes the “threat” level you are perceived at from your interview. 1 meant no threat at all. I was a 5. Apparently 6 means you’re super duper suspicious…

And from the sounds of things, I could have had it much worse. After all, there are numerous reports of people being escorted to the gate and being allowed to board only with their wallets and passports! Perhaps I should consider myself lucky?

Oh, and for the record, my bag did end up back at JFK with me!
What About You?

Have you flown out of Ben Gurion or experienced tough security measures before? What was your experience like?

http://www.aaronswwadventures.com/2013/01/leaving-tel-aviv-israel-airport-security-ben-gurion/

It was bloody awful, but far worse on the way out when i really looked like i was a bag of nerves and was.

I was even pulled up at the departure gate even though i wasn't carrying any hand luggage and they had searched my case, as i found out when i arrived at my hotel! (but they packed it back up really nicely)lol

On the way back, i was feeling far more confident in myself, i was being direct and irritated in my replies, so perhaps i didn't stand out too much and also it was my birthday, so when i was pulled up for questioning, i was waved through!

TBF....It's bloody awful, but needs be! What a Face

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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Philagain48 on Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:33 am

...So i remembered that they put a barcode on my passport, just checked and it was 2 on the way back!

...On the way out, they put a sticker inside and they were really worried at the departure gate.

Happy days!

lol
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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Aspca4ever on Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:36 pm

OMG - I'd be screwed with my mobility issues; couldn't stand in those long lines - waiting to be probed/poked/prodded and questioned.  My muscle & joint pain would escalate - my brain would fog up and I'd be a mumbling/sweaty mess and they'd be carting my chubby butt off to some unknown point of Neverland!!! 
Holy Hell.
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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Philagain48 on Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:42 pm

Aspca4ever wrote:OMG - I'd be screwed with my mobility issues; couldn't stand in those long lines - waiting to be probed/poked/prodded and questioned.  My muscle & joint pain would escalate - my brain would fog up and I'd be a mumbling/sweaty mess and they'd be carting my chubby butt off to some unknown point of Neverland!!! 
Holy Hell.

It wasn't just me though, they also pulled the woman behind me as well, she was moaning about it on her phone to someone at the departure gate.

I've had it before at security on other flights when Doug and i have gone away, simply because i'm a bag of nerves normally and it makes me stand out i would suppose.
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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Sassy on Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:44 pm

It's a lot worse if you have an arab sounding name, even if you are a citizen of Israel, American, British etc.



Watch in horror as Maysoon Zayid, an American woman of Palestinian descent was deprived of her medication and sanitary napkins and was left to bleed in the airport terminal !!!!!!
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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Sassy on Tue Oct 10, 2017 6:47 pm

Black and Jewish? Try Explaining That to Israel's Airport Security

Michael Twitty, a Jewish African-American culinary historian, who was a guest of the Jewish Film festival in Jerusalem, endured humiliating treatment at Ben-Gurion Airport. Irrespective of religion, race or gender? Not in these parts.

He teaches Hebrew in Jewish schools in the United States, underwent an Orthodox conversion to Judaism and has been profiled in major Jewish newspapers everywhere (including Haaretz, on December 19, 2014). He was in Israel during Hanukkah as a special guest of the Jewish Film Festival held at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. But when Michael Twitty arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport to fly back to the U.S. he was interrogated rudely, his Judaism was called into question, his personal effects were taken from him – and he seethed with anger and humiliation.

In 2007, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel went to court against the demeaning treatment meted out to non-Jews at Ben-Gurion Airport and at El Al check-in venues abroad. ACRI noted that the security checks to which Israel’s Arab citizens are subjected at airports are far more rigorous than those undergone by Jewish passengers, including those who are not Israeli citizens. The fact that a passenger is an Arab are apparently reason enough to subject him to a thorough check, even if there were no suspicions against him. ACRI requested that equal and substantive criteria be set for the scope and level of security checks for all passengers, Jewish and Arab alike. Earlier this year, the state announced that changes had been introduced in the method of security checks, but according to ACRI they do not remedy the problems it cited.

But it seems that Arabs are not the only “usual suspects.” During the check of Twitty he was separated from his partner, who is non-Jewish and white. He was asked the standard questions and allowed through, but Twitty’s story was just beginning. The security woman “asked me had I been to Israel before,” Twitty said in an email. “I replied that I had. She asked when and I answered honestly, 2004.” When she asked why I had visited then, “I replied [that] I came on Taglit [the Birthright project]. She immediately gave me an incredulous look.”

What to expect at Ben Gurion Airport

Twitty explained to her that he was Jewish. “She asked me why I was in Israel. I explained I was invited to the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, which could also be easily verified. She then asked what I did for a living, and I explained I was a food writer and taught Hebrew school in America. She really didn’t understand some of what I was telling her, and besides that her look changed to a tight disingenuous smile… Both my friend and I deduced from her body language that she did not believe a word out of my mouth, she looked really disturbed, even worried. In fact, had she checked, she would have found out that I won a first-place essay prize from Birthright that year.”

The woman consulted with someone, and then a different agent, a man, came over and “asked me the standard security questions, rapid-fire. He asked me a lot of questions about who packed my bags and what was in my bags. He asked me even more questions to verify my Jewish identity. Did I speak Hebrew?... He asked me if I converted Orthodox, and I said yes." Twitty even showed his him pictures of his conversion certificate. "He asked ‘How did you get this? Who gave you this paper?’… He asked me what shul (synagogue) I belonged to and when I went there and for what purpose. Every few sentences he would reverse the order and re-ask the same questions... I used as many Hebrew/Jewish terms as I could muster.”

CIA shows agents how to keep their cover at Israeli airport

At the next stage of the check-in process, Twitty was questioned by a third security agent, “who did a short repeat interview of what I dealt with downstairs, only this time I was more adamant about being Jewish... He was adamant about re-asking the same questions about weapons and liquids and assumptions that I was working with someone. I didn’t get it.” Twitty noticed that “all of the Black people I saw that evening were in the same line [as I was], including an older African American woman in a wheelchair. There were several Arab or Muslim women in the same line.” Twitty’s bags did not arrive with him when he landed in the United States.

Demeaned at Ben-Gurion airport: 'Now you know what Jews endured'

He adds, “This was a lovely trip to Israel before that moment… I know that my experience was not uncommon and I know some groups get far more scrutiny, face detainment, imprisonment or worse. I was scared, upset and offended. I knew it wasn’t that bad in the larger scheme, but I was also keenly aware of the double standard based on color and appearance.” It felt, he says, “like someone had hit me with a bat in the stomach. It was just a reminder of how some people will never see me as Jewish… I thought being a ‘guest of honor’ meant something.”

A spokesperson for the Airports Authority stated, “We regret the passenger’s feelings and are doing all we can to ensure the passengers’ safety and security.”

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.635487
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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Shady2 on Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:02 pm

Sassy wrote:Black and Jewish? Try Explaining That to Israel's Airport Security

Michael Twitty, a Jewish African-American culinary historian, who was a guest of the Jewish Film festival in Jerusalem, endured humiliating treatment at Ben-Gurion Airport. Irrespective of religion, race or gender? Not in these parts.

He teaches Hebrew in Jewish schools in the United States, underwent an Orthodox conversion to Judaism and has been profiled in major Jewish newspapers everywhere (including Haaretz, on December 19, 2014). He was in Israel during Hanukkah as a special guest of the Jewish Film Festival held at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. But when Michael Twitty arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport to fly back to the U.S. he was interrogated rudely, his Judaism was called into question, his personal effects were taken from him – and he seethed with anger and humiliation.

In 2007, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel went to court against the demeaning treatment meted out to non-Jews at Ben-Gurion Airport and at El Al check-in venues abroad. ACRI noted that the security checks to which Israel’s Arab citizens are subjected at airports are far more rigorous than those undergone by Jewish passengers, including those who are not Israeli citizens. The fact that a passenger is an Arab are apparently reason enough to subject him to a thorough check, even if there were no suspicions against him. ACRI requested that equal and substantive criteria be set for the scope and level of security checks for all passengers, Jewish and Arab alike. Earlier this year, the state announced that changes had been introduced in the method of security checks, but according to ACRI they do not remedy the problems it cited.

But it seems that Arabs are not the only “usual suspects.” During the check of Twitty he was separated from his partner, who is non-Jewish and white. He was asked the standard questions and allowed through, but Twitty’s story was just beginning. The security woman “asked me had I been to Israel before,” Twitty said in an email. “I replied that I had. She asked when and I answered honestly, 2004.” When she asked why I had visited then, “I replied [that] I came on Taglit [the Birthright project]. She immediately gave me an incredulous look.”

What to expect at Ben Gurion Airport

Twitty explained to her that he was Jewish. “She asked me why I was in Israel. I explained I was invited to the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, which could also be easily verified. She then asked what I did for a living, and I explained I was a food writer and taught Hebrew school in America. She really didn’t understand some of what I was telling her, and besides that her look changed to a tight disingenuous smile… Both my friend and I deduced from her body language that she did not believe a word out of my mouth, she looked really disturbed, even worried. In fact, had she checked, she would have found out that I won a first-place essay prize from Birthright that year.”

The woman consulted with someone, and then a different agent, a man, came over and “asked me the standard security questions, rapid-fire. He asked me a lot of questions about who packed my bags and what was in my bags. He asked me even more questions to verify my Jewish identity. Did I speak Hebrew?... He asked me if I converted Orthodox, and I said yes." Twitty even showed his him pictures of his conversion certificate. "He asked ‘How did you get this? Who gave you this paper?’… He asked me what shul (synagogue) I belonged to and when I went there and for what purpose. Every few sentences he would reverse the order and re-ask the same questions... I used as many Hebrew/Jewish terms as I could muster.”

CIA shows agents how to keep their cover at Israeli airport

At the next stage of the check-in process, Twitty was questioned by a third security agent, “who did a short repeat interview of what I dealt with downstairs, only this time I was more adamant about being Jewish... He was adamant about re-asking the same questions about weapons and liquids and assumptions that I was working with someone. I didn’t get it.” Twitty noticed that “all of the Black people I saw that evening were in the same line [as I was], including an older African American woman in a wheelchair. There were several Arab or Muslim women in the same line.” Twitty’s bags did not arrive with him when he landed in the United States.

Demeaned at Ben-Gurion airport: 'Now you know what Jews endured'

He adds, “This was a lovely trip to Israel before that moment… I know that my experience was not uncommon and I know some groups get far more scrutiny, face detainment, imprisonment or worse. I was scared, upset and offended. I knew it wasn’t that bad in the larger scheme, but I was also keenly aware of the double standard based on color and appearance.” It felt, he says, “like someone had hit me with a bat in the stomach. It was just a reminder of how some people will never see me as Jewish… I thought being a ‘guest of honor’ meant something.”

A spokesperson for the Airports Authority stated, “We regret the passenger’s feelings and are doing all we can to ensure the passengers’ safety and security.”

read more: https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/features/.premium-1.635487

Stop trolling Sassy.
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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Philagain48 on Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:18 am

My brother mentioned that he wanted us to visit Egypt next year.

The foreign office advise not to visit there as it's very dangerous for non Muslim westerners.

There aren't that many places in the region where you can go anymore, unless you are a Muslim of course.

I like a mixture of things to do while i'm on holiday. It bores the fuck out of me to sit on a beach EVERY day.

I like to visit historical sites and see the culture of a place.

It's a real shame that it's very hard to do that these days due to the extremists.
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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Philagain48 on Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:34 am

.....Since i got back, i went out the back door to our garden..

There were lots of cigarette buts just outside of the back door, they had obviously been thrown down from the flat above.

The girl upstairs has recently got married to a devout Muslim, he's always been fine with us, but his brother has been staying.

Doug had mentioned that i had gone to Israel to our neighbour.

...It has to be something to do with that imo.


Don't be ridiculous, probably leaned out of the window to smoke, because very few people like smoke in the houses/flats now, and automatically flicked the end away. Would have been more polite to put it in the bin, but don't be so paranoid.
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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Sassy on Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:35 am

Philagain48 wrote:My brother mentioned that he wanted us to visit Egypt next year.

The foreign office advise not to visit there as it's very dangerous for non Muslim westerners.

There aren't that many places in the region where you can go anymore, unless you are a Muslim of course.

I like a mixture of things to do while i'm on holiday. It bores the fuck out of me to sit on a beach EVERY day.

I like to visit historical sites and see the culture of a place.

It's a real shame that it's very hard to do that these days due to the extremists.


What a load of bollocks:



There is no FCO advice against travel to Cairo, Alexandria, the tourist areas along the Nile river (including Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings) and the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada.

As a precautionary measure, we are advising against all but essential travel by air to or from Sharm el Sheikh. On 31 October 2015, a flight from Sharm el Sheikh to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai.

Egyptian and Russian authorities are conducting an investigation. The investigation has not yet formally concluded, but on 17 November 2015 Russian authorities stated that the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the flight.

We are not raising the threat level in the resort. The above advice applies only to air travel to and from Sharm el Sheikh.

We will continue working with the Egyptian Authorities to enable regular flights between the UK and Sharm el Sheikh to resume. We are also liaising with travel companies so that they are able to resume flights and holidays in Sharm el Sheikh as soon as appropriate security arrangements are in place.

Around 231,000 British nationals visited Egypt in 2016. Most visits are trouble-free.


https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/egypt


https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g295398-Activities-Alexandria_Alexandria_Governorate.html


Please don't be giving out false information.



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Re: Leaving Tel Aviv: My Experience Through Airport Security at Ben Gurion

Post by Philagain48 on Thu Oct 12, 2017 8:17 pm

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/egypt

I read that.

So you have to be careful about where you go then, my mistake then.
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