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For a first-time traveler to Israel it may be an unusual experience, to go through the airport security in Israel. Israeli airport security is world-leading and innovative, considered one of the most secure airports in the world, and the underlying idea is to avoid excessive use of impersonal intrusive checks such as x-ray machines that virtually strip you naked. You’re also far less likely to need to remove your belt or shoes as you pass through the metal detectors. Instead of these checks airport security in Israel relies on personal encounters with trained security personnel. You may be asked questions on the nature of your stay in Israel and this might feel stressful to some, who might think that they are singled out for these interviews for whatever reason, or perhaps because the questions come as a surprise. Most of the time travelers pass through the Ben Gurion airport easily and comfortably, with less awkward security checks and less need for shoe and belt removal, but instead travelers are asked some basic questions that in some cases could result in a further interview.
When you arrive at the airport it happens that you’re taken aside for some brief questions on what your plans are for your visit in Israel; where you intend to stay and so on. Sometimes this process begins at the departure airport on your way to Israel, especially if you’re flying with El-Al. The personnel are friendly, but often ask follow-up questions which can seem a bit too much. Not everyone encounters this, but “high-risk groups” frequently do. For example, a very European-looking friend of this writer is frequently taken aside as he steps off the plane and is asked questions on the nature of his stay in Israel. There is usually more common for a young person traveling alone to be asked questions of this nature, than for a middle-aged couple, but neither encounters any real issues unless they display nervousness or don’t seem to know where they are planning to stay. There may be other “triggers” of these questions as well, such as carrying a passport with stamps from countries hostile to Israel. This may include stamps from countries like Iran, Syria and Sudan etc.
Departing Israel can sometimes involve questions as well. Everyone encounters the questions if they packed their luggage themselves, if someone gave them a package or something to bring to a friend abroad etc. Some are asked where they stayed and what they did. Depending on your answers they scribble something on a small sticker they put on your passport. If for whatever reason your answers are not satisfactory you may encounter more questions in a later control. If that happens there’s really no need to stress about it.
Just answer their questions in a calm and relaxed manner. If you appear calm it will help getting it over with sooner. In fact, the security personnel look for clues that stand out, such as a nervous appearance, perhaps more than they are interested in the answers themselves. That is probably why they touch upon subjects that could illicit a nervous response if you have something to hide. Don’t be offended even if you feel singled out. It could just be a random control that has nothing to do with a trigger. It’s certainly not a good idea to be rude or upset with the mostly polite questions you may be asked. The typical Israeli straightforwardness can sometimes be mistaken for rudeness, but besides being straightforward and to the point, Israelis are generally very friendly and helpful. The security personnel are really not there to make life hard for you.
Security procedures at the Ben Gurion Airport are based to a large extent on personal interaction rather than impersonal and awkward security checks. Don’t be alarmed or stressed if you’re asked some basic questions, just answer in calm manner and you’ll do just fine. The whole experience is usually very smooth and efficient, helping you go through security relatively fast.
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