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Fozea Boudjellel: a British citizen is strip-searched, humiliated, intimidated and prodded by Israeli airport security guards at Ben Gurion International Airport

"Fucking Israel! Fuck you, you fucking Israeli bastards! They stripped me off my clothes. They made me naked. They took off my bra. They made me hand my bra over to Israeli men, who then walked to the cargo of the plane to open my bag to chose me a different bra to wear because they took my bra off me. They made me pull my jeans down to the floor. They made me open my legs wide and my arms out. FUCK YOU ISRAELI MOTHERFUCKERS, FUCK YOU!!! I'm back in England in my country. Fuck you fuck you fuck you!!!!! You denied me sleep then I had a seizure and your fucking guards pocked me while I was having a seizure! Fuck you, you fucking ugly Israeli wankers! Fuck you, you motherfucking bastards! Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you!"

The angry outburst above appeared on the Facebook wall of Fozea Boudjellel after she arrived back in England following her harrowing experience. The comments below are those of Michael R. Burch, an editor and publisher of Holocaust and Nakba poetry, who has worked as a peace activist for many years ...

Fozea Boudjellel is a British citizen who lives in London, England. Why was she strip-searched by Israeli security guards at an airport? Such grotesquely insensitive treatment has nothing to do with "security" and everything to do with humiliation and intimidation. And this was not an isolated incident. Avram Meitner, a friend and fellow peace activist, told me that a woman he was traveling with experienced similar treatment. Here is a more detailed account of what happened to Fozea, in her own words ...


How you react now will speak of your TRUE nature (my baby cousin Saeqa Qabaz)

I speak to highlight the suffering of Palestinian people at the hands of Israeli military and police. Especially to raise awareness of Palestinian child detainees.

I was travelling to Israel to run in Jerusalem, to raise money for children in Gaza (please donate, it's for the kids).

When I got to Heathrow terminal one, as soon as I arrived a security guard from El Al walked up to me, introduced himself and said he was going to do a security check because El Al are very security conscious. I was asked why I was going, where I was going to stay and many many more questions. It was as if he was trying to catch me out. As if he didn't trust me, but the only thing he could see was that my face was Arab-looking.

They took me to a room and made me open my bag. They asked me more questions. I co-operated. Then they said I had to go to the gate earlier than everyone else because they needed to give me a body check and it would be on my clothes. So I went. Two women were in the cubicle and one explained that she was training the other. So they spoke to each other in Hebrew the whole time.

First one of them started running her hand down from my shoulder to my arm very very slowly. It was easy to tell there was nothing there as I was wearing a lace top. I felt uncomfortable so I joked. I said I know you are enjoying yourself.

Then she said turn to the side and open your arms. So I did. She replied no, not like that the other way. Then she said, "Open your legs." So I did. She said, "No a bit wider." Whenever they gave me an instruction I followed it, but it was never right, they kept correcting me for the smallest things. I started realising that this was a humiliation and not an innocent body check. She continued ... "Now turn around I want to check your back." I was feeling cross by now because she had just run her hands over my bra strap very, very slowly. It was obvious that there was nothing there and it was obvious that she was just feeling me. So out of sarcasm I said, "When you rub my back start from the neck my muscles are aching and don't miss a spot." I was being sarcastic because I knew she was trying to break me and I was showing her she couldn't.

Then she said take off your top. So I did and the whole thing again, but now she said I want you to take down your trousers to your thighs because of the metal on your jeans. I got cross. I said "You know it's because of the metal in my jeans, what will you find there?" So I pulled it down. I was angry, but I had to comply. So my legs were apart, my jeans down, my top off. Then she said ok you can pull your jeans up, turn around and take off your bra. My bra was setting off the metal detector due to it being an underwire bra. I had already been checked by Heathrow security, they were ok with this so why weren't the El Al women? I knew I had no choice so I did.

I then heard a guard from the other side of the barrier shout out Palestina! Palestina!!! I knew he had found something in my purse. It was BDS sticker that Connor Cusack had given me when we watched the Leila Randera film about Bethlehem passport. I forget to remove them. I knew I would have to answer for it ... so I started thinking of an excuse as I knew if they knew I had been to see the film that they would deny me access to Israel.

That's when she said, "Ok now we need to give your bra to the men." I asked "Why?" Their security metal detector went off at the underwire. They knew it was an underwire bra. They knew that's why the device went off. So why? She said, "Our machine isn't working properly, we need to take it to a better one". Yet the machine was working, I had just heard it. I knew they were harassing me. The woman said, "The security guard will take your bra to the baggages and remove and chose a different bra for you to wear. We need this one. (Up until now they have that bra and they can take my DNA from it. I feel worried about this). Did they take my bra and my DNA to frame me for something? I was really worried about what they really took my bra for. I still am. But at least I've told everyone that they still have my bra and can take my DNA.

So I was waiting topless, my arms folded to hide myself and I waited about 25 mins for the Israeli man from El Al security to bring me a bra from my luggage.

I then had my shoes returned. I was about to put my shoes on, but the women said that I couldn't. So I shouted across the changing barrier. "Why can't I put my shoes on, you took them away for long enough. Why can't I put them on?"
The man shouted back, "You can put your shoes on!" So I looked at the lady with disgust. I then said I want to speak to the head of your security. When he came I asked him, "Why did you treat me like this? You humiliated me? What for? You haven't done this to anyone on the flight, only me!"

He then said, "What is this????" They were the BDS stickers in my purse. I said, "SO what? I am British! We all mix together! We are Arab, Jewish Christian, Muslim, black, white: we don't care we are British we speak with everyone, so what???"

He said, "Why is it in your purse?" I replied, "I go out to dinner with friends. We talk someone gave me BDS stickers. They don't approve of me using EL AL to fly, it's Israeli. If I was for BDS why would I fly by EL AL?"

He said I was free to board the flight. I asked him, "What will happen to me when I get to Israel? Will I be treated like this again?" He shrugged his shoulders and replied, "They are a different security company. I don't know. He shrugged his shoulders and walked off." At this point I took a deep breath, because I knew I was probably going to face a further grilling.

At Ben Gurion I was pulled aside. I was there from 6am to 8pm so I can definitely say with certainty that anyone who arrives at Ben Gurion airport who has a father or mother born in Asian, Arab or African parts of the world will be pulled out and have their passport checked. On average I would say the wait is two hours. After 4 hours I was exhausted ... I felt a seizure coming on. I went to the Israeli airport security staff and said, "I think I am about to have a seizure. I need to take my medication. Can you give me some water please?" The staff were rude and tried to shoo me away, but I insisted that I get some water for my medication. A woman took me and showed me the water. At this point I was going into a seizure. She couldn't care less. She walked off. She wanted to show me she didn't care. My head began to feel dizzy. I was feeling confused. I staggered back to my seat and the second stage of my seizure happened. My tongue falls out of my mouth and I can't speak, think or react properly. I tend to slump as I can't carry myself. One Israeli security came to me, the other was a paramedic (the worst I have ever seen in my life). He said, "What's wrong! What's wrong! Hey! Hey! What's wrong!" He was shouting at me as if I was a nuisance, as if I was a pest. He keep shaking my arm and poking me. I struggled to say, "I'm having a seizure". He shouted, "So take your medicine! Hey, I said take your medicine then. Hey! Hey!" As he poked and prodded and shouted. It was so hard on me. I could barely carry myself and he was making my seizure feel so much worse. He couldn't care less. He was just asking so that he could report back and say, yes the paramedic attended, but in England paramedics would rush me to hospital. Doctors would take blood. They would install a drip. They would lay me down to recover. But here, in Israel, they sat me on a metal chair, they shouted at me, they poked me, they prodded me. I couldn't even carry myself. I wanted to die at that point. It was so hard.

He left. The seizure passed in about 20 mins. I felt like a train wreck. As if a train had ran over my entire body. I found it so hard to sit. I asked two security guards whether there was a bed in the airport because I just had a seizure and needed to rest. They shrugged their shoulders and looked the other way. They couldn't care less if I died in front of their eyes.

Six hours later I was called in for interrogation. The man behind the desk said. You are exhausted Fozea I can see that. I will let you go in 10 minutes, if you only tell me the truth. Where are you staying? At a hotel. What hotel? The Park Plaza. He said "Do you know any Palestinians here?" I replied " No," I knew to say so because that's the one thing everyone says not to do. Never admit to knowing a Palestinian in Ben Gurion. They'll not take it as something friendly. They'll take it out of context as if you're going to do something. "Do you know any Palestinians?" ... "No". Then he asked "Will you be travelling to Palestinian territory?" I replied no. He asked again. I said no. He asked again. I said no.

He opened up my phone and went to settings. He pressed some buttons and some numbers with Palestinian codes came up. Who are these? I don't know. He asked again and then again. Then he said "Do you know any Palestinians?" I said yes. "Who?" I said Ibrahim from the peace house. He works with a Jewish Rabbi to promote inter faith mutual respect. He asked, "Why didn't you tell me?" I answered, "I was afraid." He asked whether I was travelling to Palestinian territories once more. I replied no.

I was left for another 4 hours. Given a sandwich and water. I was suffering from the after effects of a seizure. I was so desperate to lie down, but they didn't care. My muscles were spasming. My body was aching. I was in so much agony. I was shattered. My eyes turned grey around the outside from exhaustion.

I was interrogated hours later again the head of Israeli security. She brought me a coffee. She asked me why I was here. I told her I wanted to run. She said, "I have seen your posts. You think Israelis are child killers. So you say every Israeli man, woman and child go around killing children!" She was really angry. I replied, "No I don't say that. What I do say is that your soldiers break into Palestinian homes at 3am in the morning and take children as young as 8 years old, to prison for no reason and some are tortured, others sexually abused and, yes, some soldiers kill too."

She kept firing questions and would not wait for me to finish the answer before firing another question and another and another. She said that she thought I was a very very very good person, but she didn't trust me in Israel because she felt that I would cause Israel great harm. She denied me access. I said, "Please, please let me come in. I want to run. I will do nothing to your country. Please let me come in please." I pleaded with her. Tears ran down my face. My heart was aching. She said again, "Fozea I think you are a very very very good person. A very good person. I can't let you in. I fear you will bring something very very bad for Israel."

I was escorted out ... a few more things happened, but I am tired now and will end this post. Please click on the link below. Share it. We need to raise money for the dance center and equipment in Gaza. I ran 10K in London today. Please watch this link below and donate. Thanks!

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