Fozea Boudjellel: a British citizen is strip-searched, humiliated,
intimidated and prodded by Israeli airport security guards at Ben Gurion
"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 ...
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED AT THE AIRPORT TO ME ON THE 28TH AND 29TH OF APRIL 2015
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
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
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!