Dozens of Israelis claim valid passports destroyed at border

Did border control destroy valid passports? Response: 'We wiill not tolerate slander of Authority employees who act according to the law.'.

Mordechai Sones ,

Israeli Passport
Israeli Passport

Dozens of Israelis claim that border control employees at the entrance to Israel, whether at the Taba crossing or at Ben Gurion airport, intentionally damaged their passports, forcing them to pay about NIS 750 ($212) for replacement, NRG 360 reported.

The issue came up recently in the Facebook "Lovers of Sinai" group. A post from last weekend quickly went viral. One member who had returned from Sinai reported that border control told him in passing that his passport was defective. Reactions were quick to arrive, revealing that this was not an isolated case.

"I just got back from Sinai. The passport control clerk at the passage on the Israeli side was particularly slow to deal with my passport under her desk in a strange way, and then she informed me that I had a torn page and that I should exchange the passport for a new biometric [passport]; so she repeatedly recommended. The odd thing is that 10 minutes later my friend was with her and got the same treatment. We do not remember that there was a torn page. Has anyone ever experienced anything like that?" he wrote.

Other group members shared their own experiences, which were suspiciously similar to the case described.

Another member of the group wrote: "It happened to me that when I returned from Sinai two weeks ago. The clerk at the Israeli crossing also pointed out to me that I had a torn page in a passport that I hadn't noticed."

One of the group members, Eva Melech,shared her own experiences with NRG 360.

"After Rosh Hashanah I was checked by two clerks. One of them turned to me with a strange question, saying, 'I don't understand your name.' Meanwhile, the second clerk held my passport, and the two exchanged glances and detained me for a few minutes. Meanwhile my friend passed me by with no problem." Melech noted that her friend's passport was seven years old, while hers was three.

"As an aside, she said to me: 'Your passport has been torn and you should take care of it.' At that moment I didn't realize that they might have done something suspicious, especially since my passport was kept in a safe place, and I have a special cover for my passport. From the cut in the passport, one can see that it was cut and not torn. I had planned to fly out for Simchat Torah and now I'm stuck here; there is no chance that my passport will be accepted in the state it's in and I refuse to pay a fine of NIS 750 for renewing a defective passport," said Melech.

As the post gained momentum, other group members wrote that the phenomenon was not limited to the Taba crossing, but that similar incidents took place at Ben-Gurion Airport. One group member told 360 that he was forced to pay the 750 shekels for a new passport at the airport. "Once my passport was in the hands of the border officer, he showed me that it had a tear. I noticed that one could easily tear it, even if it was a tear that's barely visible."

The Population and Immigration Authority responded to the claims in a statement which read: "One of the main functions of a border controller is to ensure that the passport presented by the traveler is in order and not defective in any way whatsoever according to all the rules. A controller who does not notice a defect in the passport does not carry out his duty, and this may cause the passenger to encounter various problems abroad and even be arrested by immigration authorities. We will not tolerate the slandering of the Authority or of the workers who did their work in accordance with the law, and any such slander will not lack for a response."