Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Experience with Israeli Border Control

My Experiences with Israeli Border Control

A lot of people don't know this but I've been planning on retiring from traveling on Dec 31st, 2015, for more than a year now. When I made this plan I made a bucket list of all of things I wanted to achieve in my life before I retired from extensive traveling. On this list was going to masjid al Aqsa and building an orphanage. Al hamdulillah, Allah facilitated the process of potentially getting these both done on one trip. Allah is kinder and more generous than we can possibly imagine. I was traveling with Boonaa to the Israeli Border via King Hussain Bridge from Amman.

While waiting for the bus we met a Canadian Caucasian non-Muslim who is married to a Palestinian man. This was the 4th time she was attempting to cross this border in the last 6 days. The first time she was sent back after being detained for 7 hours! This gave us some insight as to what we can expect at the border. We get onto the bus and drive to the border. If you were to drive in a straight line without any checkpoints it might take about 10 mins. However, due to the barricades and multiple checkpoints it could take up to 3 hours!

Upon arriving at the border we saw people running out of the buses to get their bags and get into a line to get a tag for your luggage. It was 38 degrees and a few hundred people were in line with very little order. There were some that paid bribes to jump to the front of the line. Once you get a tag for your luggage you proceed to another line where you the security guard just looks at your face and gives you a sticker which tells you how much of a threat you potentially are. We both got 3, the highest level, surprise surprise!

You then proceed to a line which is now in door and is like airport security. You walk through the scanner and if you are a level three are asked to wait on the side so someone can come swipe your hands and bags to test for explosives. So far we have spent an hour and fifteen minutes at the border.

Once you are cleared you then go in further to be questioned to asses if you are eligible to enter or not. The lady I got seemed like such a nice lady and we were having an amazing conversation till something changed. I still don't know what it was...perhaps her manager gave her a look from far, that is what i suspect, then she became stone cold and gave me a paper to fill out and go wait in the waiting area. You are asked on this paper where you are going, why, your name, father's name, grand father's name, where you will be staying, and to list of any people you know on the other side.

After sitting and waiting for 2 hours a lady comes and finally takes this paper from us and we wait another hour there after. Now we are split up and taken for questioning separately. This lady had to be one of the most racist, condescending, and ignorant people I have ever met. She grilled me about everything! From why I didn't know my great grand father's name by heart, to why I chose a particular airline, to why I printed my itinerary at the airport and not at home, and why I chose these particular days of Ramadan and not any other. With all of this I was very calm and collected and thought it went really well.

As this was the first day of Ramadan we were fasting and already making a lot of dhikr and dua. With the intensity of the border it was taken to a whole new level! Boonaa actually compared it to the day of arafah!

Iftar time comes now and I go and look for a place to get water. No water fountains! They close the shops 10 minutes before Iftar. I asked multiple people just to get some water and was refused. Till this one lady genuinely tried to help me and took me a to few different places. She eventually takes me to the ministry of interior and gets me water from there. She seemed like a genuinely nice person and I pray that Allah opens her eyes to the truth.

During our time waiting I saw a blind woman being stopped for interrogation, along with a mother with 2 autistic children. One Palestinian man had his passport thrown back at him. Multiple times there was shouting upon helpless Palestinians. This whole time you can do nothing but wait and be patient.

We met several non Muslims that were stopped and detained for multiple hours just because they work for NGOs that do relief work. Constant harassment.

It is now 10 pm, we have been there for 7 hours and finally someone comes to us and asks us to get out luggage. I thought we were going to be let through at that time. These people tossed my bag inside and out and threw everything everywhere. The worst part is they would constantly laugh and talk about you in their language, while they hold machine guns right next to you. After they are done having their fun you are asked to pack your bag in a hurry and put your bag on a scanner. You are then escorted into an interrogation room that has no cameras. I was asked to spread my legs and every inch of my body was touched at least three times. They then go through your phone and laptop. I was then asked to wait again as Boonaa went in and went through the same process. He was then sent out and we waited together for a while till we were sent back to the original waiting area. It is now 11pm and the border is closed and we are the last ones there. After waiting some more someone comes out with a piece of paper and hands it to me and tells me to sign it without even giving me an opportunity to read it. It says you have been denied entry into Israel because it is feared you will ILLEGALY IMMIGRATE (ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME!!!???). Followed by a vague statement of Security concerns. While holding on to our passports they tell us to wait some more.

Then someone comes and gets you to go and pick up your luggage from the holding area and we were escorted out of the building. You only get your passport on the bus once you are in Jordan. As if all of this wasn't enough as we were standing on the side walk a lady comes with an angry face and starts shouting to go sit on the bench. She then within a split second turns to her friend and they start laughing. At that time you feel like kicking and screaming but are afraid of what further savagery you can possibly see from them. The absolute worst part about all of this is they stamp your passport saying: "Denied Entry into Israel" and high light it with 2 red lines to make sure you never forget this incident. This incident only made me feel more for the plight of the people of Palestine. May Allah guide them, protect them, be in their aid always. Ameen!

In a famous story of Umar sleeping at night a foreign king remarked, you were just during the day and thus you sleep peacefully at night. You can tell these people are scared because they recognize their oppression. With a lot of them you can see they have been engrained with hatred and the highest degrees of racism possible. They fail to realize that no oppressive state will last forever, and the way you treat people is the way you will one day be treated.

I urge all people to continue boycotting Israeli products and support the BDS movement. I encourage people to continue to travel to AlAqsa and never let it be abandoned. I urge all people to continue to make dua for the people of Palestine and never let them be forgotten.

"When is the help of Allah ?" Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near." (2:214)

Taken from the FB page of Navaid Aziz

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