On July 1st, l attempted to cross the border from Jordan to Israel to visit historical sites and to attend a wedding in Ramallah. I was invited to the West Bank by my university professor who happens to be Palestinian. We were separated at the border checkpoint on the Jordanian side and my luggage was loaded on her bus while I had to stay behind in Jordan and wait for the tourist bus.
I arrived on the Israeli side at approximately 3:30 PM and waited to approach passport control. When I stated the reasons for my visit to Israel to the border agent, I was immediately interrogated about my family history and questioned about my intentions in Israel. I wanted nothing more than to visit major points of interest, attend the wedding, and return to Jordan in two weeks.
Their attitudes changed completely when I informed them I would be staying with my university professor in Ramallah that night and became extremely hostile.
I was then interrogated and screamed at by three border agents with a large line of other American tourists who were behind me. I was immediately detained without explanation and my passport was taken from me.
Since my bags were already in Israel, I only had my backpack on my person and the border patrol made rude comments about me, stating, “How do you expect to even survive with just one bag”?
I kindly explained to the agents that my belongings already came through the border checkpoint with my travel companion and that they were waiting for me.
This answer was not sufficient for them. And they made more rude comments regarding the amount of money I had in my wallet. The amount of money (50 Jordanian dinar) I had in my wallet should have been totally irrelevant since I intended on using my debit card within Israel.
They forced me to sit alone after I provided them with addresses, my travel companion’s information, and did not inform me what was happening.
After approximately three hours, I was informed by the military on site that I was to be returned to Jordan without my belongings. I had important medications in my bags that I could not be without, but the border control and military disregarded this and made rude comments about my need for my medication, prescription glasses, and contact lenses.
The reason they gave me was: “it is unlikely that someone invited you to a wedding here and that you’re disorganized, so for the safety of Israel, you’re being sent back to Jordan”.
I’m not sure how attending a wedding and tourism are reasons for being denied access to a country.
The rudeness of the Israeli staff at the King Hussein Bridge checkpoint was inexcusable and a black mark on the face of the Israeli military and government. I was also forced to have my fingerprints taken and was made to feel like I was a criminal, coupled with insults, until I was forced on a bus back to the Jordanian side, where I was treated very kindly by the police and was assured that I would return to Amman safely.
No human being should have to endure ridicule and intimidation for just simply traveling. I have contacted the US Embassy to inform them of this issue.
I am disgusted and disappointed that a country would prefer to dehumanize people than let them move freely. What happened today was just a taste of what Palestinians go through every. single. day.