BootsnAll Travel Network

I WENT TO ISRAEL (Palestinian Territories)

Thats right, I don’t care if anybody knows it, I went there. So whats the big deal, well, in the Middle East, most of the Arab countries do not recognize Israel as even existing (I’ll explain more about this.) Since it is not just a dismissive resolution, they will actually penalize those that have visited by not letting them in their country. What this means to me and why all the bitching? Well, after a month of preparation and spending a lot of unnecessary money, I had come to the maximum amount of opportunity for entering my next and most difficult country (well make that second to Iran, but that is more of a pipe dream), and I was shut down in a matter of a minute.

I ended up making my way to the Syria Embassy in Amman upon returning from Israel. Yes, I knew that citizens of countries with a Syrian Embassy must apply for a Visa in their home country. I had that all worked out as the issue is that Visas issued are only good for 6 months and as I have been traveling non-stop for two and a half years, I was not able to get a Visa back in the states. Anyways, here was my one minute conversation.

Me: Salama Malakum.
She: (smiles)

Me: I would like a Visa.
She: Where are you from?
Me: The US.
She: You must apply back in the US.

Me: Is it possible to get one here as I have been traveling out of the states for the last two and a half years?
She: No.

Me: I have heard it is possible to get one at the border?
She: No.

Me: The Syrian Embassy in New York suggested that under the circumstances that I should inquire here.
She: No.

Me: If I fly into Syria is it possible to get the visa at the airport?
She: No.

Me: Can I get your phone …
She: No

The dream was over.

Okay, I might have got stumped there, but there is always a way and I am working on it. Anyways, back to Israel.

A big part of traveling to Israel is your first experience just trying to get in. For me, my Israel travels started back in Sinai, Egypt when I took the very expensive one hour Ferry from Nuweiba, Egypt to Aqaba, Jordan. There is a Israel border at the north of Sinai in Taba, but my reasons were that getting into other Arab countries would need a clean passport that showed no evidence of traveling to Israel, including exit stamps with countries that border Israel. Israel is at least understanding of this and will not stamp your passport if requested and you are lucky. However, you still need to keep your passport clean by exiting Egypt at a non-Israel border, so, it was an expensive ferry ride. Once in Jordan and spending a quick week (again, also in preparation for Israel as I needed to enter Israel and exit before my initial Jordan visa expired or if I didn’t I would have to apply for a new Visa in Israel and thereby screwing up the whole thing. So, the faster I get to Israel the more time I had.) Confused yet. I ended up making a go at getting into Israel the day I left Petra, but the borders were closing early for some holiday so I ended up staying the night in Amman and making the run the next day.

After getting in a fight with the taxi driver which involved a bunch of Jordanian Police getting involved and making the driver give me back my change, I entered Jordan Immigration to get my stamp out. Now, I was entering via the King Hussein (Jordan name)/Allenby Bridge (Israel name) where it is supposedly the only place that the Jordanians will not stamp your passport as you are actually entering the old Palestinian Territories which were actually occupied by them a few years ago. They do it as they do not recognize Israelis occupation of the West Bank and still kind of claim it as free. After requesting them to not stamp my passport, they stamp the receipt ticket for the $5JD exit fee. Sweet, number one problem solved. Next we board a mandatory bus which will take us across the bridge to Israelis side ($3JD). At the Israeli side we drop off our main bags at a conveyor belt that shoots them off to the inside of the building. Next, we go through a standard metal detector and x-ray machine that scans our hand bags. Next we individually enter a little phone booth looking thing that blows air from all directions. I have no clue what exactly that thing does and have not found out as of yet (kind of sketchy though.) Once clear from there you enter the main warehouse room where there are booths running down the middle like Airline check in counters. The first ten or so are lines of what I guessed were Arabs/Palestinians trying to enter. Down at the far end are a couple for foreignors. I scoot down there with the help of a Palestinian/New Yorker who travels on an American Passport. We stand in line for about an hour before we are tended to. For me it was a bit longer as when I got to the counter the lady/girl (I’ll clarify that later), tells me to go to another counter as she is leaving. I move over and that girl leaves as well. So I stand there for another half an hour until a different girl returns and takes my information. The basic info was my fathers name, my grandfathers name, address, employment, cell/home phone, e-mail, and any info on people I know in Israel. I give her the info and she takes my passport to a different room and tells me to wait. I wait for four hours. I am lucky as I talk to a Brit who has been there an hour and a half before me. We assume the long wait is because he is coming from Turkey and Syria with some prior trips to some Gulf countries. One of the girls from the office comes out and questions him three or four times about his student status and where he has traveled. Towards the end of the four hours that I have waited, I get lucky and the one nice immigration officer that I have seen working the counter comes and starts asking me about my travels and specifically Sudan. She goes into the office and returns every so often for the next hour asking me about Sudan, my travels through Africa, why I have two passports, why I am traveling, why I am traveling so long, and why I keep asking to not stamp my passport. Finally at the end of five hours she comes back out with my passport and tells me that I am all finished, she made sure that I did not get a stamp in my passport, and I have a 90 day visa. I offer a hug but she just giggles and blushes. I wave to a couple of friends that I have made and hold up my passport up into the air like I am thanking the gods. The immigration people laugh. I head past the counters and pick up my bag. The last stop I hand over my passport and the girl takes out the slip that the immigration people stamped, tears it in half and throws it away. I am not sure what is going on but I head out the door. I have to pee so I go to the bathroom. Afterwards, I take a look into my passport and there is nothing to show that I entered Israel. I go back to the last girl and before I can say anything she says that yes it is correct, and it is okay that I have nothing. Fine, I didn’t say a word and headed out the door and onto a shuttle ($30SH) that would take me to Jerusalem.

Since I want to keep on the same topic, I will also write about the exit procedures as well. On the way back I took the same shuttle and got dropped off at the Immigration terminal. They take my big bag, I head into the terminal where they do a quick x-ray of my bag and send me through the metal detector. I pay the exhorbinant $127Sh and head over to the waiting area where the bus comes to pick us up. After a ride back over the bridge our passports are collected and given to Immigration. We wait as they are processed and handed back. I was a bit worried as I didn’t get to ask anyone that I wished to not have my passport stamped. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t as they hadn’t before. I was correct and they just stamped another slip of paper. With that, I was back in Jordan with no evidence that I had even visited Israel, well, once I went through all my stuff and tossed all the little immigration slips and receipts as well as exchanged all the shekels that I had. The next day I went to the Syrian Embassy, and well, you know what happened after that. Have no fear though, I am working on it. If I fail, I just head to India and say screw the Middle East. You’ll just have to stay tuned to find out what happens next.

Oh yea, the woman/girl thing. Well, in Israel they have mandatory military service. Two years for females and three years for males. They are obliged to enter after they turn eighteen. One of the predominantly female operations is the immigration service where mostly females are assigned. They are surprisingly very attractive as well, so that is the offset for the hassles you get when you arrive, however, some of them are mean and can be a bit intimidating and catty especially to other females. I was lucky as I got the only nice one. So, when you have eighteen year olds running the show (and carrying M-16’s which are as tall as they are, you will understand my confusion between calling them women or girls.) For the record, when I answered, it was “M’am” all the way, but I was thinking “I’ve been a bad little boy and I need a spanking.” Just kidding. Really.

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3 responses to “I WENT TO ISRAEL (Palestinian Territories)”

  1. Mike says:

    Hey Steve,

    LOOOOOOONG time reader, loser no time commenter. Love reading about your travels for both your stories and information for my own travels which starts next September.

    I believe that phonebooth thing that blew air all over you is used to detect any traces of chemicals on your person or clothing that were used in bomb making. I read an article about it awhile back. I think they’re called chemical residue detectors or something.

  2. snw2srf2stt says:

    Thanks Mike on the sniffer catch. I figured it was either for explosives or drugs. I have been swabbed a lot flying back to Miami from South America, but they always used a sort of cloth and then ran it through a machine. The girls watching the machine found it very humorous getting my hair all mussed up. Cute though.


  3. jeannie says:

    I can relate to your adventures. I married a Palestinian and every 90 days I must go to the “warehouse”. I get many questions, like ‘YOU MARRIED A MUSLIM HOW COME YOU DONT COVER YOUR HAIR?’ or Do I have any bombs, weapons, did anybody give me anything. They dont recognise my husband as an American even with his American passport. He is not allowed in Israel. The women/girls were nice to me but not to the Americans who wore the hijab(coverd). They strip search them. I also wait 4-6 hours. Now I knoe to get there 1-2 hours before they close.

    Just to let you know the Arab lines in the warehouse are for Palestinians returning from a trip. The West Bank is inside Isreal so they must incounter many check points even inside their own territory. But they dont wait hours like we do.
    The Palestinian women are much prettier then they appear. I have been living in the West Bank 11 months now and I got to know their customs, traditions but most are not religous. I never had anyone push Islam on me , so their pretty cool. They love rap music, tattoos, nose rings, and they love to drink too!! They are not closed minded if they were I would have divorced my husband 13 years ago.
    I work at a womens pool and the girls/women are very cool but they’re strong due to the occupation and the check points they encounter daily. You know 18-20 year oldsth m-16 is really whacked.

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