To enter Palestine, you have to pass Israeli immigration, which is one of the hardest things.
This post is just a piece of advice from a Japanese traveler, which doesn’t ensure your safe entry into Israel.
The situation may change often. It’d be better to check the latest posts on the Lonely Planet forum before you fly.
Also see: How to cross the border
The three crucial points for Israeli Immigration
1. Ask for no stamp on your passport
With an Israeli stamp, you won’t be able to enter these 9 countries below;
Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Iran
If you’re planning to visit those countries, be careful not to get stamps on your passport when you enter and leave Israel.
You will be catechized as the reason after asking no Stamp at passport control.
In general, if you seem just a normal traveler, they won’t stamp. But sometimes they will if he/she would a bit mean.
2. Be careful not to have stamps of Arabic countries on your passport
Surely, you’ll be catechized about every detail if you have Arabic countries stamps on your passport.
It’s better having nothing. But if you have any, prepare a logical reason for explaining.
3. Do not say you’ll visit Palestine
Israelis won’t be happy to know foreigners visit Palestine.
If it’s your first visit, it’d be better to give Israeli cities as your destination.
An immigration experience of a traveler
I, the author, entered Israel two times, flying with EL AL Airlines (Israeli national flag).
Once you check in with El Al Airlines, you are interrogated so strictly. And maybe because of that, questioning at Ben Gurion Airport wasn’t that hard (it took 10 minutes anyway, though).
Things to be asked at immigration (at Ben Gurion Airport)
- your purpose for traveling to Israel
- where to visit
- where to stay
- why do you travel alone
- (after asking no stamp) why do you prefer no stamp
After passing that tiring immigration, you must start dancing!
Questioning before check-in with El Al Airlines
El Al Airlines require a strict examination of all passengers before check-in.
*However, I imagine it’d not be that difficult if you are Jewish.
These are the questions I was posed.
- Where to stay
- Do you know the currency of Israel?
- Show travel guidebooks
- What did you do & where were you before coming to the airport?
- Who pays for your trip?
- Who packed your baggage?
- Do you have any presents or packages from others?
- (After they found my travel diary) Read out loud in English
- (After they found my digital camera) Show the photos
- Do you have any arms?
Unless you pass those questions, you won’t be able to check-in.
Not the first time? It would be more strict
If you’ve already been to Israel (or Palestine) by El Al, the examination would be more difficult.
My second time with El Al was a nightmare.
They opened my carry-on baggage without notice and messed up (even some small items were missed when I checked my bag after arrival). Still, they forced me to come into an investigation room for a strict body examination; they checked even my hair.
After those examinations, no other passengers were waiting, four staff surrounded me and discussed whether they’d accept me for 1 hour.
At last, I was allowed to board, but one of the staff escorted me to the gate; she watched me even in front of the bathroom door.
I didn’t have any right to choose the seat; I was packed into the window seat with two big Russian ladies on the isle side, which made me unable to move.
My carry-on baggage was changed to check-in baggage by them; I wasn’t allowed to pick up my lipstick.
Most of the passengers flying with El Al are Jewish in my impression. Travelers are so rare enough that I seemed eye-catching to them.
Even though you prepare so well for the examination, it must exhaust you. It might be okay for one time, but it’s hard to recommend El Al Airlines.