Sunday, 17 July 2011

July 8th - Arrival at Ben Gurion Airport

I left the plane, and having only hand luggage, walked slowly to passport control expecting the others to catch me up. Being tall, I am easy to spot so I listened out for my name, however, somehow I appeared to have missed the rest of my party, and so arrived at the passport booths alone. A member of airport staff guided me to the Israeli passport holders booth as the queues for internationals were long and unwieldy. My passport was duly stamped and I walked through the airport looking for whoever was to meet us. As in every arrivals hall, people stood with handwritten pieces of paper, names scrawled upon them. I asked a couple of people if they were there to greet our party, but it appeared no-one was. I did not know for many days that those who had been there to meet us had been arrested, quite forcibly as it turns out. I walked outside to inspect the taxi rank and the coaches. Apparently 10 coaches had been sent to meet us and carry us through the ghastly wall at Bethlehem, I saw nothing. I looked for the British Consulate, found nothing. Previously we had posted our names on the FCO website stating why we were going and giving our contact details. We had also contacted our MP's asking them to request assistance from the FCO at Ben Gurion airport should we be detained. I found nothing. I sat down and rang Joyce, to discover that about 40 people were being kept in one room whilst Israeli security thought about what to do with them. I rang Mick and received the same story, and decided to sit and wait to see what happened next. I found it very difficult to believe that I was the only one let through the airport.

Cameras and journalists were lined up near the exit doors. I asked them why they were there. 'We are here to cover the demonstration,' they said. Bemused, I said I was the only one who seemed to have got through, equally bemused, several journalist asked me for an interview, which unprepared though I was, I gladly gave. Russia Today set up a live broadcast on the spot, Israeli State TV Channel 1 (who I discover has completely misinterpreted my words - thanks to Swiss Blogger Shraga Elam ) the Jerusalem Post and several others recorded what I said, but obviously I do not know what the printers have published.

That done, I changed up some money, bought a nice salad to eat, and before I was halfway through the meal a text came in from Joyce. " We're being attacked... GET HELP"

Now I could have left the airport and enjoyed a nice week in Bethlehem and the surroundings, or I could try to help my friend. No contest. Leaving the half eaten meal I looked round the almost empty airport, stopped some uniformed men and asked for help. They looked bewildered and said we needed the police. I didn't like to say that it was the police who were probably causing the problem. The men dragged their feet. Looking round I saw 2 cameras set up and presenters giving their story. I tried to show my phone message to the cameras, accosted the journalists who were not happy that I had interrupted their speeches, and was told to wait. I waited. Nothing happened, except one camera turned to film me. Thinking that at least a camera would be some insurance I gave up trying to find help and decided to re-enter the airport alone. I was naturally stopped. Angry by now that no-one was prepared to assist me I banged the doors with my small suitcase - the results are shown here , though once again my words are misinterpreted.

1 comment:

bene yamin said...

this life is about freedom and happiness, then I shall seek it. But not just for me. If it is I alone who is given that freedom and that happiness, then I do not want it.nice post thank you for sharing.