Verbal abuse and common intimidation of foreigners at Ben Gurion Airport

Travelers arriving in Israel are frequently subjected to abusive behavior by Population and Immigration Authority officials at Ben Gurion Airport, including threats to handcuff them, ban them from the country and other forms of intimidation.

Officials with the authority, which has the responsibility of granting entry visas to Israel, routinely yell at and demean foreign tourists and Israeli visa holders, confiscate their passports, and do not provide them with any information on whether they will be allowed to enter the country. for hours.

Three people who recently traveled to Israel have said The Jerusalem Post of what they described as their “humiliating” experience at the airport at the hands of Population and Immigration Authority officials, and all three claimed they felt treated like criminals.

Sources familiar with the matter have stated that these types of incidents occur on a daily basis.

On November 8, Aaron Ross, a US citizen and university student studying in Israel, arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on a flight from the United States.

Ross had forgotten to renew his student visa and had also not obtained a COVID-19 green pass certificate, although he was eligible for one.

Officials from the Population and Immigration Authority reprimanded him, confiscated his passport and said they were taking him on a flight back to the United States.

Ross tried to sort out the bureaucratic problems through various channels, but he needed his passport number and a picture of his passport photo page, but officials refused to give him back his passport for this purpose.

“Why are you talking to me … you want wives, do you really insist on wives, yeah?” the Population and Immigration Authority official told Ross.

After the intervention of former Knesset member Dov Lipman, founder of the Yad L’Olim organization, Ross’s passport was finally returned and he was able to organize the necessary documentation to enter Israel.

“It’s shocking that these people had so little compassion and so little willingness to help him stay,” said Ross’s father, Kevin.

An official of the Population and Immigration Authority threatens to handcuff a foreign student seeking to enter the country (Credit: Courtesy)

“These people don’t know what Israel is supposed to be about, they have lost sight of the purpose of the State of Israel, no one should be treated like that, Jewish or non-Jewish, but especially those for whom this state is meant to be a refuge.” .

Others were not as lucky as Ross.

Turid Wolf, 62, from Norway, flew to Ben Gurion on November 3 from Oslo, via Frankfurt, on a Lufthansa flight with her two adult children arriving around 10 p.m., to meet her Israeli husband and visit his mother.

Before the flight, Wolf tried to fill out the Ministry of Health Passenger Entry Declaration Form that is required to obtain an entry permit, but was unable to upload his vaccination documents through the online form due to technical glitches that still remain. have not been resolved.

The Health Ministry told Wolf that he could travel to Israel regardless of technical problems and that the entry permit would be processed upon arrival.

Lufthansa officials and Israeli officials at the Frankfurt airport told him the same thing and allowed him to board the flight to Israel.

However, when she and her children arrived, they were confronted by hostile officials from the Population and Immigration Authority who reprimanded them for not completing the form and confiscated their passports.

An authority official told Wolf to try to fill out the form again, but when he asked for his passport to be returned to fill out the form, the official erupted in anger and shouted, “You are not going to enter Israel,” and left. from the area with all three of their passports.

Wolf and his children received no further information from any Population and Immigration Authority official as of that time.

They were forced to wait in the passport inspection area for more than five hours from 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. with nowhere to lie, sleep, or rest, and it took an hour and a half before they were provided with water and a sandwich.

At 4:30 a.m., they were taken to have their carry-on luggage scanned through security, at which point they realized they were being returned to Norway.

Security officers eventually escorted Wolf and his children through the airport and onto the plane and their passports were handed over to the flight crew rather than returned to them.

“We are in shock at what happened here, they treated me like a criminal,” said Wolf, who said that all the officials they tried to talk to had been rude, dismissive and unhelpful.

“It will be a long time before I can return to this airport,” he continued, noting that he has been visiting Israel regularly since 1987 and, along with his children, have always enjoyed his visits.

“I don’t want to say that we are no longer going to come to Israel, I just want people to be friendlier,” he added.

And in another case, Lisa Adams, who is not her real name, arrived in Ben Gurion from Los Angeles, via New York, on November 3.

Adams, who declined to give his real name as he is in the process of enlisting in the IDF, has a valid student visa but received his last COVID-19 vaccination seven months ago and was therefore barred from entering his arrival.

They confiscated his passport, as well as his luggage, they gave him no information about what would happen and when he asked for help at the Population and Immigration office they told him to leave.

At one point, a Population and Immigration official told him that if he did not take the flight back to the US, he would be barred from entering Israel for 10 years.

Adams was taken to the departure lounge and left there for six hours with no one informing her when someone was coming to pick her up, and she was eventually taken to a plane to catch a flight back to the U.S. With her passport delivered to the flight crew to the end. From the trip.

Adams has received a third COVID-19 vaccine in the US and is making arrangements to fly back to Israel to continue his enlistment process in the IDF.

“The treatment they gave him was horrible, they spoke to him cruelly and gave him no information,” said his mother, who also asked why Israeli officials at the New York airport had not told her there might be a problem.

“He was afraid, he was crying, he is 19 years old, he did not know what was happening, he told them ‘I am not a criminal, do not treat me like that.’

The Population and Immigration Authority did not respond to a request for comment at time of publication.

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