‘Entery Denied’: Part II

in the title the word entry is intentionally misspelled to reflect the misspelling on the Israeli “Entery Denied” stamp. 

I made my second attempt to cross the border yesterday. Spoiler alert, I didn’t make it. Below is the press release I wrote about my crossing experiences:

I have been volunteering with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Palestine for one year. Due to visa restrictions all volunteers have to come into the country under a tourist visa, and leave every three months to renew our visas. Last week I was returning across the Allenby Border Crossing for my fourth stint. I was questioned extensively about myself and my family, my plans for my visit, and the work of CPT. Finally after 7 hours of questioning and waiting I was told I was denied entry. I asked the reason why I was denied, and they did not give a clear answer, but did suggest that part of the reason was that I did not have enough evidence to back up my story. The soldier suggested that I return later with a letter from CPT, and evidence of where I was going to stay, and added that I should get a letter from the Israeli embassy. I took his advice, but the Israeli embassy was closed for over a week, so returned to the border with a letter from CPT stating our work, my position, and my purpose for entering the country. I also printed out two letters from Israeli friends ‘inviting’ me.

My second attempt was similar to the first. I was questioned multiple times. I was asked to trace my family lineage back three generations. I was asked to prove my religion. I was accused of lying about my reasons for coming to the country. I found this ironic because I have always been honest about my reasons for entering, and it has brought me nothing but trouble.

Finally I was again denied entry. The soldier this time told me that the reason was because CPT is not a recognized organization. I told the soldier that we legally do not need to be recognized by Israel, and I asked why that was a reason for not letting me in. He said his commander said I couldn’t come in for that reason, and that was the end of the conversation.

In recent months Israeli border security has kept 2 other CPTers from crossing (the three of us account for half the CPTers attempt to enter during that time). This is the first time someone has explicitly stated that it is because we are with CPT, although we assumed as much before.

CPT has been working in Hebron for 19 years. We are an international non-profit organization registered in the State of Illinios (n-5241-358-3). We are a member of the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) in the oPt. We receive grants from the United Nations and from Save the Children UK. CPT is a well known well respected INGO in the region. We have no explanation for the targeting of CPTers at the border in recent months.

CPT’s mission is simple. It is to support peacemaking efforts in conflict zones. It is clear from the work we do that we follow this mission. I question why the Israeli authorities see people working for a ‘violence reduction program’ as a threat.