Israelian airport immigration process is by far one of the most difficult and if you are a Muslim under the age of fifty it is much harder which can take hours to complete. I'm a Pakistani-origin German Muslim and before deciding to visit Isreal I went through the countless terrifying experiences that other Muslims had to face at the airport. Here in this blog I will explain my own personal experience with the Israel immigration at the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Aiport.
I have always dreamed of visiting Jerusalem but also I was very afraid to enter Israel mainly due to the fact that I was not sure whether the airport authorities would allow me to enter or send me back. In the worst-case scenario, I might put myself in trouble. But finally, I overcame my fear and decided to fulfil my life long dream to see the historical old city of Jerusalem. For this trip, one of my friends decided to join me. We both are German nationals with Pakistani-origin.
We purchased a direct flight with EL AL the Israel flag carrier airlines and if you want to read about our horrible experience with the airline security, you can read my blog here. We had already read some blogs and prepared ourselves to complete the immigration process in 4 to 5 hours so after landing in Tel Aviv we went straight to the immigration counter. There were not many people in the queue and after a few minutes it was our turn. The officer took our passports and after asking a few questions, he told us to go the corner and wait there. He kept our passports and told us that someone from the immigration will call us for further questioning.
In the small corner, there were around 50-80 people mainly Arabs and Muslims visitors from around the world. Some of them were already waiting for more than 4 hours so we prepared ourself for a long day. After waiting for an hour, one of the officers called us to fill a form with all the personal details about:
After filling the forms, we waited another two hours before my friend was called for his interview with the immigration officer. His interview lasted for one hour before I was called in. The officer was very friendly and respectful. He started asking me similar questions which I was already asked to write in the form earlier. He was quite insistent to know why I'm visiting Israel even though I told him Jerusalem is the third holiest city in Islam and dream of every Muslim to visit this incredibly historical city which he thought is not important as we can visit Mecca and Madina. He continued his interview and asked whether I know someone in West Bank or Israel and if I am going to meet someone here during my stay in Israel. He further asked me about my itinerary and why I'm going to visit especially Bethlehem and Hebron. I explained to him that I will visit Hebron to see Ibrahimi Mosque. The whole interview was conducted in a friendly manner and at no point, I felt uncomfortable. I answered everything truthfully and I think they already know a lot about us so there is no need to hide anything. One thing I remember he wanted to know my Gmail E-mail account which I didn't write on the form as my main E-mail account is from MSN.
After the interview, we waited another 30 minutes before we were allowed to enter Israel. All in all, we waited for more than five hours for immigration clearance and my advice for anyone visiting Israel would be to plan for at least 4-6 hours to complete the whole process. Answer everything truthfully and you will be allowed to enter unless they find something against you.