Although the two reports below don’t fit into any regional catagory, they are being posted for any international who is leaving the airport to go home. Many stories have already been documented of the treatment when entering, some have reported the treatment when leaving. These two women are 81 and 71 years old, and they want to pass on recommendations to all of us.
by Hedy Epstein
August 23, 2005
I was detained from arrival time at the airport until it was time to get to the gate for boarding. I was questioned much more than ever before, much of it having to do with Women in Black (WiB). They attempted to get names from me; all I ever gave was WiB.
“Who invited you?” “WiB.” “What is WiB?” I pointed to my clothes, since I was wearing a plain black top and black pants. “How did they know to contact you?” “Because I am a woman in black.” To every question I responded, “WiB”. They went through my stuff, but only superficially.
I was taken to one of their lovely rooms to be patted down and scanned with the metal detection wand. The young woman wanted me to “take out” my knee replacement (because it’s mostly metal, the wand goes off). I explained it couldn’t be done. She insisted I could and that I must do so. Finally, she called in her supervisor, just a couple years older, who also insisted that I “take it out.” I suggested they bring in a doctor or nurse, who can “educate” them. Finally, they gave up, probably because it was time to get me to the gate “on time.”
Recommendation: Check your wallet when they give it back to you. Someone took the four $100 bills I brought with me in case I needed to hire an attorney when I entered Israel. Since I didn’t need him, I was carrying the money home.
Before I went to security, I looked in my wallet to make sure my money was still there. It was. I realize I should have checked my wallet when it was finally returned to me, but didn’t. It probably was stolen while I was away from the security area, being wanded.
I’ve sicne contacted the airport ombudsman, which I did earlier today. I’m sure it’s a futile attempt to retrieve the cash. I might get a response, but not the money. Make sure you check your money both before and after you go through security if you are stopped. In fact, tell them how much money you have, then insist that it is checked before you leave.
Leaving on a jet plane
August 23, 2005
I didn’t expect any problems at the airport on leaving, so I was somewhat surprised at being taken from the line immediately after they looked at my passport. Obviously they were expecting me, because they didn’t scan it or check it against any list. They just saw my name and beckoned for three or four goons who said I must follow them. They didn’t want me to push my luggage cart but I said I needed to lean on it due to leg problems. They let me do that, but made sure I didn’t touch my bags.
Across a long hallway, up a freight elevator, down another long hallway and into the luggage searching department.
“Do you have a cellphone?”
“In my purse”
“Sit down there”
“Do you have a laptop?”
“We have to check it.”
“Do you have a cellphone?” (again)
“Yes, why do you keep asking me if I have a cellphone, are you going to take it away from me? I need to use it.”
“No, No of course not.” “Sit there.”
“Come here and take out your laptop.”
“You take it out”
“No, you must do it”
Limped over to baggage counter. Opened bag. Dragged out clothes and stuff on top and threw it all over counter.
“Don’t throw everything all over!”
“Why not, you’re going to do it anyway. I’m sick of this.”
“Come with me”
“I don’t want to leave you with my money and things”
“Don’t worry, everything will be here”
In the Wanding Room for metal detection
“Do you have anything on your body?”
“Exactly what I had when I came in.”
Back to seaching area
Used telephone to tell someone I was being held.
‘”I need to take your phone, and your (phone) book.”
A few minutes later, they brought it back.
Person I had called calls back.
“We must take your phone for a minute”
(obviously to check number of caller)
All was repeated for about one and a half hours until they repacked everything and gave me the guided tour to the ticketing office (me limping and wheezing all the way) where I asked for my wheelchair. Wheelchair was brought; Australian Airlines employee asked for passport; I told her my guard was holding it.
When I finally boarded I felt I wanted to burn all my clothes, and never never never go back to Ben Gurion. I will fly into Gaza next time. Inshallah.
Regarding the questioning:
I was never asked a single question about where I had been, what I was doing, who had I visited.
They obviously knew everything they needed to know about me. At one point while the bodyguard was arguing at a security checkpoint with a guard who didnt want to let him and wheelchair pass I heard “Palestine” mentioned. I just waited for them to sort it all out between them, and eventually my bodyguard insisted on pushing my wheelchair through, with much
screaming and arguing in Hebrew.
When I returned to France, I discovered they have done something to my laptop computer. The battery is completely discharged, and the power cord doesn’t fit propertly and won’t charge it. The panel on the bottom of the computer has obviously been taken out and no longer fits properly.
Recommendations: Take your cellphone to the airport with you. Even if they take it away, you still have time to call someone and let them know you are being harrassed. But recognize that they will take it away from you and check the phone numbers you have dialed.
Mail whatever you can back to yourself, including memory sticks, photos, tapes, material. Ask them to turn the computer or camera back on when they give it back to you to prove it still works.