24 September 2013
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Entery Denied: Part II*
* The word “entry” is intentionally
misspelled to reflect the misspelling on the Israeli “Entery
I made a second attempt to cross the
border. Spoiler alert, I didn’t make it.
I have been
volunteering with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Palestine for
one year. Due to visa restrictions all volunteers have to come into
the country under a tourist visa, and leave every three months to
renew our visas. Last week I was returning across the Allenby Border
Crossing for my fourth stint. I was questioned extensively about
myself, my family, my plans for my visit, and the work of CPT. After
7 hours of questioning and waiting I was told I was denied entry. I
asked the reason for my denial. They did not give a clear answer, but
did suggest that part of the reason involved not having sufficient
evidence to support back my story. The soldier suggested I return
later with a letter from CPT, evidence of where I was going to stay,
and added that I should get a letter from the Israeli embassy. I took
his advice, but the Israeli embassy was closed for over a week. So I
returned to the border with a letter from CPT stating our work, my
position, and my purpose for entering the country. I also printed out
two letters from Israeli friends ‘inviting’ me.
attempt was similar to the first. I was questioned multiple times. I
was asked to trace my family lineage back three generations. I was
asked to prove my religion. I was accused of lying about my reasons
for coming to the country. I found this ironic because I have always
been honest about my reasons for entering, and it has brought me
Finally I was denied entry again.
This time, the soldier explained it was because CPT is not a
recognized organization. I told the soldier that we legally do not
need to be recognized by Israel, and I asked why this was a reason
for not letting me in. He said his commander said I couldn’t come
in for that reason, and that was the end of the conversation.
recent months Israeli border security has kept two other CPTers from
crossing (that is 50% of the CPTers attempting to enter during that
time). This is the first time someone has explicitly stated that it
is because we are with CPT, although we assumed as much before.
has been working in Hebron for 19 years. We are a member of the
Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA).
We receive grants from the United Nations and from Save the Children
UK. CPT is a well known, respected INGO in the region. We have no
explanation for the targeting of CPTers at the border in recent
months and I question why the Israeli authorities see people working
for a ‘violence reduction program’ as a threat.
Part I of Jonathan’s first border denial click here