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Denial of Dignity, Denial of Entry

Eccerpts from by Nadia’s journal 3 May 2007

What happened to me yesterday is something I couldn’t imagine possible, not because I didn’t think I could be refused entrance into Israel. There always was a possibility I would be interrogated, but not in the way they did.

I landed in Tel Aviv at 7 am, and handed my passport over to passport control. After less than 2 minutes, three men came up saying they were waiting for my arrival. They took me plus all my stuff to a big room, where more than 20 people started checking every single thing. First, they took my mobile and wrote down every phone number and name that was in it, checked my SMS, plus the latest calls I had made and received, then checked pictures on my camera.

After that, they checked my body, my clothes, my hair, and my ears, even my nails.

One guy introduced himself as Sami (i don’t remember the last name). “I am Sami, from the Ministry of Defense. I have been waiting a few days for your arrival, I will work on you today, and we will put everything on the table. I will be hard on you, because I am not a nice person. I am mean, which is why they chose me for you. You are a special person, Nadia, and you will get the toughest security system we have. If you collaborate with us we will help you”.

Sami took me to a room very far from the main center of the airport. The office has the logo of Ministry of Defense. One woman was with us all the time (according to him, it was to make me feel more comfortable. He told me “I know Arabs girls don’t want be alone with a man. We respect you, don’t worry”.

First of all, he took several pictures of me, then opened a file in his computer. He started asking me about my family, phone numbers, professions, number of children, addresses, everything. He took copies of my credit card, saying he must check the previous activities on it, then took copies of my ID, driver’s license, the pictures of my family I have with me, all while writing down who is who.

After all this he started asking more questions, “I am not here to check on what you did in Nablus, or if you worked or not, or if you stayed longer than the permitted time, or if you did anything illegal. There are people already working on that. My job is to check about TERRORIST ACTIVITIES YOU CAN BE INVOLVED IN. For that we need to check on the people you are related to, because WE KNOW that you know five people, terrorists, the worst people here. We know they are your close friends. If you give us their names (despite the fact that we already have it) you will enter Israel. If you collaborate with us, we will help you Nadia.”

Then, the show started.

He started with people listed in my mobile, one by one, the 163 numbers I have. Who is he/her, how did you meet this person, are you in touch with him, and on and on. Every single person in my mobile (the Palestinian numbers and Jordanian numbers) was checked on his computer, and every person’s picture came up on the computer. I saw Sam’ s picture, Anita’s picture, Yusra’s picture, Sumaida’s picture. At one point, he asked me about people in Balata and Askar Camp, people I’m supposed to know, so he was waiting for me to mention them.

He told me that he’s been checking on me for months. “Many people you know in Nablus were interrogated, and almost all of them gave us the same five names we’re looking for, saying you are a very close friend to them. Many people in Nablus know you Nadia; we contacted all of them. Now you must start speaking.”

I didn’t know who they were looking for, as you can imagine. The guy then called someone by phone asking for more things, and immediately, new pictures of people showed up on his computer. He then asked me about most of these people, many I had never seen. Some of them, however, I did know, and their numbers were in my mobile.

I told him that I can’t be blamed for what someone else did or didn’t do, that I don’t know what he’s talking about. He continued saying that I was not telling him the truth, because he already knew the truth, and I will not enter Israel ever again, if I don’t collaborate with him by providing him with more details.

After he checked my mobile again, he asked me why, with 163 numbers on it, only 13 are from people in Jordan, while all the rest are from Palestinians. “How is possible, Nadia, that a woman like you, smart, good looking, attractive, doesn’t have more relationships with people in Jordan? What are you planning to do, why do you insist you want to enter Israel, how are you related to these terrorists? They asked you to make something, didn’t they, they asked you for money, and they asked you to get married to them, what are you planning to do with them as soon you enter here? We know the truth, but he want hear it from you, and again, if you don’t collaborate with us we cannot helping you.”

After a few minutes another guy, Amir, entered the room, and he looked at me and told me, “Stop lying, you are hiding something, and we know it, you have bad friends and your relationship with them makes you related to their activities, I don’t trust you, and you will not enter Israel because of that”.

After he left, and I was alone again with Sami, I started crying, like a baby, and I told him that I want this interrogation stopped, go ahead, send me back to Jordan, because I don’t know what they are looking for, and I am not involved to anything.

Sami sat next to me and kindly told me “You are a nice person, a strong woman I can see that, well educated, so don’t make mistakes, this is your opportunity to tell the truth, we will help you, give me the other three names, and don’t cry anymore. Why are you so nervous, why this is so important to you? I don’t understand, and if I don’t understand, I only can think the worst about you… I WILL NOT LET YOU ENTER IF I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING, BECAUSE I WILL BE RESPONSIBLE, WHEN YOU BLOW YOURSELF UP IN TEL AVIV”.

The interrogation continued, he made copies of all the pictures I have and started writing down next to each person their names, then looking in his computer. He said, “Nadia, maybe you have clean hands, but if any person has put their hands in dirty water, your hands will be dirty, and your hands are already black”.

Finally, he told me “Your situation here is not good, you have a strong connection with bad activities. This world is not safe any more, because of MUSLIMS (Nadia, remember what happend on September 11 because of Muslims). You are a big risk to the security of the Israeli people, and all of the visitors in this country. Israel is a democracy, one of the best countries in the world, not like the Arab ones, and we work hard to prevent any terrorist activities, and you are not helping us with our mission.”

He left me saying, “My team will decide now about what we will do with you, but I don’t think you will be able to enter here again. You are a risk to yourself and others. You can do whatever you want, go to COURT, if that’s what you want to do. But, if you do, I will be happy to go there personally and make sure YOU WILL NEVER ENTER HERE AGAIN.”

This interrogation lasted from 7:20 am until 4:15 pm. Downstairs the Chilean consul was waiting for me. I was allowed to speak with him and go out with security to smoke a cigarette. I never saw Sami again, he didn’t come back to tell me the results of the meeting, but the people from security had already told the consul I was not allowed to enter Israel, even before the interrogation was ended.

They asked me to go again to the checkroom where they again checked all my bags and me, then put me on a plane back to Amman at 7 pm.

I will finish writing this by saying to all of you that I did my best yesterday. I think nobody is really ready to face something like that, at least not me, because I am not used to being treated as a terrorist. I feel sorry for all the people who are related to me, now these people have all their names and phone numbers; they can check on them because of me. I feel like the worse collaborator in the world, and I am so sorry for making the life of others harder than it already is.
The Palestinians face enough injustices since the day they were born.

Salaam to all