May 6, 2009

Israeli Bus Terminal Security Bullshit
Jerusalem, Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Some aspects of life in Israeli are wearing on us—most notably the exorbitant the cost of our simple groceries, anything related to kosher, and the omnipresent fear mongering of the government.

As we entered Jerusalem by bus, I just knew we were going to have problems with their absurd security policies. As I described previously (Miserable Border Crossing: Amman to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv by Bus - Part IV), because the buses pick people up at a stops without security controls—we know them as bus stops—everyone is required to once again pass through a metal detector and baggage x-ray as they disembark.

The real problem here is not having to queue again to enter the bus station, the problem is that you have to queue and go through security again just to leave. Secondly to this issue is that the troopers manning the checkpoint, automatic rifles slung over their chests, prohibit absurd items—like pocketknives.

Let me make this point very clear: You can ride the buses in Israel with all the prohibited items under your arms that you'd like—from a machete to a large bomb, should you wish—but what's not allowed is to enter the bus station with them… not even with a pocketknife buried in your luggage.

And this was the big problem we encountered this evening, igniting a bonfire of rage within Tatiana when the security guard behind the x-ray machine inspecting Tatiana's backpack said in a ghastly, surprised tone, "DO YOU HAVE A KNIFE IN HERE?!"

"Yes. We peel fruit with it," I quickly retorted, knowing full well where this was going…

Baby strapped to Tatiana's chest, I could see temper flaring after our generally uneventful two-hour bus ride. All we wanted to do was leave the station, but that wasn't going to happen unless the woman confiscated the offending object.

I snatched the hefty backpack off the conveyor belt and promptly put it back on Tatiana's back.

"We're just trying to do our job," said another armed teenager, meekly.

"We'll, your policies are bullshit," I said brushing past him.

I had to get Tatiana out of there before she boiled over. We're clearly tourists with a baby—really, where's the security threat? Heaven forbid we take a hostage with our pocketknife, while holding our infant in the other arm.

A simple courteous escort through the complex would've been very appropriate, given we had a 15-month-old with us.

A Cold Walk and More Crooked Taxis

Because Jerusalem is a good 2,500 feet above sea level, it was freezing when we got off the bus—certainly in the mid- to low-40s. Compared with what we'd been experiencing along the coast, we might as well have been tossed into a meat locker. Coupled with the start of a slight drizzle, we were genuinely unhappy.

Tatiana was chilled to the bone as we had to walk at least a half a mile out of the garage and all the way around the large structure to reach the point where local buses and taxis were idling… where we once again got screwed over by another crooked Jerusalem taxi driver.

Finally in the home of the sweet Naomi and Shahar, we're happy to be online again (after several days without much connectivity in Tzoran), and away from all the young children of our previous location—a little too overwhelming for us. The only thing we're missing is a door (…smile):



Craig |

August 21st, 2009

Oh, this is too good. I found this line on the Wikipedia page for this bus station (describing how everyone has to go through security, except people carrying a firearm):

"As is the case for most commercial security checkpoints in Israel, gun owners are exempt from security searches, it being presumed that anyone who has been vetted by the government to carry a loaded firearm in public has no criminal or terrorist intentions."



August 22nd, 2009

Hi Craig,
I had very similar experience with my swiss army knife, which is unbelievable (eventually they let me keep it). I learn't a phrase called "Jewish sense of security" which means that anyone who is in the draft is, as you said, assumed to be safe. When you are crossing into West Bank in a car driven by a Jewish guy, the police assume that the driver has ensured that the vehicle is safe. And if your driver is Arab? I got my bags, pockets and passport examined after they searched the vehicle inside out. :)

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