Peace Wadi is located only a few hundred meters away from the Jordanian-Palestinian (under Israeli control) border. As such, the farm from time to time host guests coming back from Palestine or planning to cross the border to Palestine after spending time in Jordan before. Most of these travelers make it across the border. Some, however, don’t. I’ve unfortunately been one of the persons the Israeli border police denied entering the country.
I’ve been studying in Palestine and left the country to Jordan for two weeks after my Visa has been expired. As Israel hardly issues student visas for international students studying in Palestine, it’s a common way among international students and researchers to enter the country with a tourist visa and leave and enter again in order to receive a second tourist visa to cover the second half of the semester. Of course, when interrogated at the border you’re well-advised not to tell the truth of being enrolled in a Palestinian university.
I loved studying at Birzeit University as well as living in Ramallah and was resolved to leave and try to enter a second time to be able to finish my studies there. Thinking about leaving and entering the country kept my mind busy already weeks in advance. It’s been stressful not to know whether I could finish the semester as scheduled or should rather scheme a backup plan. I prepared well for the border crossing, discussed my story with friends, went over questions I might be asked and what I would answer, talked to people who’ve been in the same situation before. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.
When trying to cross the border (King Hussein Bride) for the first time, I’ve been interrogated by three people for in sum fifteen minutes but kept waiting in between for hours. What made me feel very uncomfortable was the way people spoke to and treated me. My impression was, that people weren’t willing to listen to me or try to understand what I was explaining to them but rather got an idea of what kind of person I supposedly were and which I couldn’t correct anymore no matter what I explained to them. I was send back to Jordan with the explanation that I would have been ‘illegal’ I did a language course while being in the country on a tourist visa only. What disappointed me the most however wasn’t the rejection itself, but that this decision wasn’t based on what I said, but rather on their unwillingness to listen to me and the impossibility to give an explanation of what I’ve been doing and planning to do in Palestine for the next months.
After this first rejection, coming back to Peace Wadi has been very relieving. Here, I found a place to rest and sort my thoughts, but also to find new energy and strengths for a second attempt. The second time I tried to cross the border I went to Sheikh Hussein Bride up north the Jordan River. This attempt failed as well, but before being rejected I’ve been hold in place at the border crossing for half a day and only released fifteen minutes before closing hour. This time I was interrogated over and over again by in sum four people. Some interrogations took longer, some only a minute or two. What they all had in common was that I was asked the same questions again and again which was very tiring. Furthermore, I was pat down and wand with a metal detector by to female border guards as well as asked to pull of my jeans. Several people sifted through all my luggage. My electronic devices were examined separately. I had to present my flight ticket proving that I’ve booked a flight back from Tel Aviv. All in all I again spend hours at the border only to in the end receive the same decision which is that I wasn’t allowed to enter again as I’ve been there on a tourist visa before already. This however must have been clear to all the stuff from the first hour on when the scanned my passport for the first time. This time I didn’t leave the with disappointment but with anger and rage. Again, the decision that I should not be able to enter was already made from the beginning on but still the stuff made me to go through all their interrogations, luggage, and body checks.
At least, I hope, I kept them so busy that others could maybe pass a bit easier. I would have loved to spend another few months in Palestine, study there, see my friends and have the chance to say them goodbye at the point of time I chose to leave. However, it’s also not more than this and I can only imagine how hard, stressful, and tiring the crossing and (the risk of a) rejection must be for the ones having their homes, families and close friends there.
No border, no nation, end occupation!