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Rashad Sisemore , PAS student, Birzeit University , 11 November 2008
As you all have already been well informed I was denied entry into the country on Monday through Ben Gurion airport on November 10th, and again on Tuesday November 11th from the Allenby bridge from Jordan. As usual I was pulled aside from immigration as soon as I arrived to immigration in the airport. I was asked why I was coming into Israel and I told them that I was studying at Birzeit and visiting family. After this was checked into they asked me several questions about the family I had here, how I was related and so on. I was then moved to an area where another women began to ask me questions again for why I was here. I explained again that I was here studying at Birzeit University and visiting family, she then asked for some type of proof that I was studying at the university and I showed her my registration sheet, she said that I need to show something else so I showed her my text books. She then began to flip through my book and took out my papers looking at the score of my last test saying, “Oh very good…very good” sarcastically. She then very abruptly asked if I had met any friends in the program and of course I said yes, she then asked for their names and numbers. I was shocked, and feeling that this was a private matter I told them that I thought the question was irrelavent for me to tell them.
After this I was told that they didn’t feel like I was working with them so I could take a seat outside and wait there for hours, if need be, until I felt inclinded to tell them my friends names and numbers. I told the lady that I had three good friends in the program and asked if it was okay if I contacted them to see if it was okay to give out their private information. She simply responded with, “if you can find a phone.” I went back outside of the room and sent a text message to all of my friends stating, “Hey guys I got a huge favor to ask! Btw this is rashad. SO im stuck in the airport (ben gurion) right now and they asked me if i met anyone in the Pas program (friends). I told them that it was irrelavent question and they said if i didn’t comply that i cant come in. So i started to make up names and then they asked for numbers. So i told them no again! They told me than that they didn’t feel like i was complying so they told me that i have to wait until i give 3 names and numbers. So could i please ask three of you for premission to use your name (Or a false) and your number? I would greatly appreciate it! -Rashad”
After I had finished sending this text one of my good friends David Bonomo sent a reply saying that I could use his name. Unfortunately before I could even give the security any of my friends names or numbers I was asked to go get checked by security. They took me past the luggage racks and into a room where my bags were individually searched and they checked me as well. They then took all of my belongings out of the room that I was being checked in and when they returned my belongings my phone was gone. I asked them where it was and they told me that it was being checked by security still. They then brought me back to the security offices (without my phone) and told me to wait. I was then brought to the Ministry of Interior offices in the airport and asked several more questions. They asked who I knew here and I gave them a list of my friends and family that I knew. They then asked what I had sent in the text message and I told them everything (because they had already found the message), they asked why and I told them because I respect the privacy of my friends.
They then asked me why I had Arab names/ Palestinian names in my phone besides my relatives. At the time I could only think of one contact and that was my conversation partner, I couldn’t even remeber to think of my land lord Tahreed, or my cousins’ names. I was stressed out and told them that I should only have my conversation partners name in there, I asked them if they could bring my phone and explain to me what was going on and what names they were finding that I could probably explain. They said that they were going to bring the phone soon and we would see whether or not I was lying.
By this time I had been in the airport for 5-6 hours, I told one of the workers that I was thirsty or hungry and he said that he may be able to have the police give me somethig to eat. Hours past and I kept asking what was going on and all I was told was that security was still checking out my phone. I finally was given some food after being in the airport for 7 hours which was a cheese sandwich with vegetables and a bottle of water. I was moved several times between two rooms across the hall between this time and finally at 7:30-8:00 p.m. I was told that I was being denied by security from a man from the Ministry of Interior. I asked why, and he told me because of security and wouldn’t elaborate.
I was then taken into a room photographed fingerprinted and told to pick up my bags, where i was again searched. I went back to the area where they had been keeping me all day and was able to call my friend David (because now i had my cell phone back) and ask if he could call my mother and aunt. Suddenly i was out of cell phone minutes and i couldn’t call out anymore. My mom called me and we talked for a long time and I explained to her everything that had happened and she told me that she had been contacting the airport all day and no one was giving her an answer. And while I was talking to her a man came up and began to put stickers on my bag, I asked him what was I to do now and he told me that I was being sent back to amman. I told my mother and she fell to pieces.
My mom called me back with our state’s congressman’s office on the phone to see if anything could be sorted out and my sister got into contact with an attorney who works in these situations but it was too late because I only had and hour or two before I had to board the plane. No one would talk to my mom, even when i asked if a superior or someone who knew what was going on could talk to her, and she asked me not to get on the plane and when I told the security officals that I wouldn’t get onto the plane until someone talked to my mom and explained to her the situation I was told that I would be taken by force.
I have to mention that during this time, whenever I was to use the bathroom I had to ask for premission and was escorted to the bathroom with a security officer as well. When I was to board the plane I was taken to a police car, driven to the plane and put on board. I was told that I would recieve my passport in jordan as soon as I paid for the flight, which is ironic because my mother was told that the flight would be paid for by Israel for deporting me from an office that she talked to.
When I arrived into Jordan I was asked several questions about why I was deported and what I was to do and after answering their questions I was allowed to enter the country.
Right now I am staying with a friend of mine in Amman, luckily, but yesterday Tuesday November 11th I went to the Allenby bridge to try and cross into the west bank that way and was denied again, “for the same reasons as yesterday” when I told them that I didn’t know why I was deported yesterday they told me that it was because of “security.” I asked if there was a number that I could call to find out and they told me no. I asked if there was a number for security and they told me no. So as of now I am stuck in Jordan and have no idea what to do or how to get back into the country to finish my studies.
I am going to go to the U.S consulate today and even the Israeli one as well to see if i can somehow still be able to get into the country. But until then I was wondering what are my options as far as the University is concerned in completing my courses and taking my finals and how can I countinue my studies while i am here in Amman?
Thank you PAS for everything, I am deeply grateful for everything you have provided for me and the oppertunity to learn about the Arabic language, my culture, and the history of the Palestinian people.