Travel StoriesTravel Stories

The story of crossing the border in Israel. Why did you come here?


One of the most advanced security services operates in Israel, and the Internet is full of stories about the difficulties of crossing the border, harsh inspections and other, by no means the most pleasant, stories. But it's one thing to read on the Internet, another thing is to check for yourself on personal experience.

Screening before boarding a flight to Israel

The flight was scheduled from Istanbul from SAW Airport (named after Sabiha Gokcen), where the low-cost airline Pegasus is based. The flight to Tel Aviv takes only two hours.

I have noticed many times that at airports, when boarding at some gates, they arrange a security check, but it was the first time I had to personally go through it.

Screening before boarding a flight to Israel

As it turned out, all flights to Israel (I will add, also to London) go through additional screening before boarding. Selectively, passengers are invited to put out all their hand luggage, take off their shoes, open laptops, and carry out papers on all things, which are placed in an explosives trace analyzer. The procedure can take several minutes, and obviously for many it is extremely unpleasant.

Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv

The airport is quite large, I really liked the transition from the central hall to the passport control area, where you can see people walking from the upper departure level.

The transition between the central hall and passport control

Immediately upon arrival, you need to put your passport in the scanner, where, after checking, they will either give you a piece of paper with a photo of an entry permit, or they will issue a ban, with which the only way is to the departure area.

Having received an entry permit, I thought - how simple it is, but everywhere they write about some difficulties. Ahah, these thoughts were very premature.

An entry permit is issued for three months without the opportunity to work. The stamp in the passport is not put, the sheet cannot be lost. It is always scanned along with the passport when checking into hotels.

After walking from the gates to the common room, passport control was waiting for me, where the passport officer began to ask some unexpected questions: what is the purpose of the visit, why did you come here, who are you going to, what religion is there, is there someone you know in Israel, where will you live, show a return ticket and other questions. And then I realized that adventures were ahead of me, since out of habit I had not booked any hotels in advance. At that moment, my passport was taken away and sent to another part of the hall, where dozens of passengers were already waiting for a detailed inspection or interrogation.

Waiting in line for questioning. There are sandwiches in a blue box, but no one has touched them all the time.

Another passenger would have been sent after me, who, as it turned out, was flying in transit at all, and did not plan to leave the airport. Moreover, the transfer time was so short that all this red tape could cause him to be late for the next flight (looking ahead, he was lucky, the security service escorted him to the exit to the transit zone in just 20 minutes).

It took about an hour to wait for his turn to be questioned. During this time, I had a chance to see: nervous people waiting to hear their last name for an invitation; people leaving in tears with an escort; to hear cries of pressure and just conversations in raised tones. There were also beaming happy faces who did not just leave, but flew out running for their belongings to the transportation belt for passport control. On average, the time spent by a person in one of the offices was 15-20 minutes.


While I was waiting in line, I already resigned myself to going back. By and large, this would also be an interesting experience, so I decided not to worry at all - both options suited me perfectly.

The interrogation was conducted by a woman who asked all the same questions in Russian as the passport officer. The first thing that confused them was a clean passport, which I recently updated, but my old experience helped here - always take an old passport with you, which has a bunch of visas and stamps. After seeing the Shengens, the woman relented. Further, discussing my trip, I said bluntly that I would write about the impressions and hospitality of the country, and about the lack of reservation, I showed the booking and said that it was a matter of a minute, but it could not be done if you did not see the city. As it turned out, even before the interrogation, she already had a lot of personal data, including her place of work, education, type of professional activity, information about family composition and marital status.

Advice to those who will be questioned: believe me, they know more about you than you can even know about yourself. Any attempt to cheat will only lead to deportation.

The interrogation took only five minutes, after which they gave me my passport with the words: "You can go now."

Entrance to the arrival hall of Ben Gurion Airport

While I was on my way out, the electricity was turned off (the lighting switched to a partial backup), which is why the only exchanger could not perform exchange operations. I had to wait another half hour until the electricity was restored.

People waiting for the electricity to turn on to exchange currency in the only exchanger

Advice to those who travel only with cash - try to exchange some amount in advance. And if you fly on Shabbat, finding a working exchanger can be an adventure. Think about it in advance.


March 19, 2024 05:12 pm



Write a comment
Piter Row
March 5, 2023 11:25 pm
Got off easy. The guys of friends were forced to undress completely, lay out all the things, turn out their pants and pockets 😅