“Security threat”: An attempt to visit family in Ramallah

The front page of Electronic Intifada

Originally published in Electronic Intifada.

Asa Winstanley writing from the United Kingdom, Live from Palestine, 12 June 2009

Taking the first bus of the day, my wife and I arrived on the Israeli side of the King Hussein bridge crossing into the West Bank from Jordan. We explained that we were heading to Ramallah to visit my wife’s mother and brothers for three weeks. We performed the exact same procedure last year without incident. However, this year I was told to wait.

My wife is a Palestinian from Ramallah, where we met a few years ago. We got married there, and her closest family still live in Ramallah. We have moved to live and work in London, but try to return once a year. As Israel still controls all the border crossings into the West Bank, a trip intended as a May holiday to visit family quickly ran afoul of the continuing occupation.

Four hours after my passport was taken away, I had heard absolutely nothing. I started to make a fuss and was told that my passport was “with security.” Several hours later, I was taken in to a back room and questioned by a burly “security” agent. He asked several questions about the purpose of my trip while typing into a computer.

He wanted to know if I belong to any “groups that help the Palestinians,” and asked if, since I am a journalist I was going to work during this visit. I replied that, although I had worked with the Palestine Times in the past, this trip I was just to visit family. It tells you a lot about the nature of the Israeli occupation that they try to make it seem that “helping the Palestinians” is some sort of crime.

After the questions were finished, he told me to wait in the next room “for five minutes.” Two hours later I was still waiting.

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