I have a separate category on my blog called Travel Nightmares. It’s where I recount everything that can go wrong or has gone wrong in my travels, whether it was self-inflicted or not. Visas are especially problematic for me (see China 72-hour Visa-Free Transit Disaster (again)). The worst experience was my detention upon arriving to Tel Aviv (see Detained in Tel Aviv: A Most Unwelcome Welcome) and my prolonged goodbye when I tried to leave (“You Leave Only with Passport!” Detained in Tel Aviv Again and Bags Recovered! Ending My Tel Aviv Ordeal).
Two days ago, Lucky wrote a post called, Israeli Passport Sticker Raises Eyebrows At Beirut Airport. In it, he describes how he was stopped by Lebanese authorities at the airport. He writes, “While I didn’t have an Israeli stamp in my passport, I did have an Israeli security sticker on the back cover of my passport. This is a sticker that’s placed on the back of your passport after you’re questioned at Ben Gurion Airport. It’s yellow and has a barcode.” After a quick detour to get his passport photocopied, he was sent on his way.
Lucky was, as his name suggests, lucky. Per the State Department, “Even if their travel documents currently do not have Israeli stamps or visas, persons seeking entry into Lebanon who have previously traveled to Israel may still face arrest and/or detention if this travel is disclosed.”
Given that information, there are some takeaways that are worth reiterating:
- Don’t get your passport stamped if you go to Israel.
- If you have been detained, remove the sticker from the back of your passport.
- Do not volunteer to the border agent that you have traveled to Israel.
Now for the questions that I don’t know the answer to:
- The State Department says arrest or detention is possible if “travel is disclosed.” If the border agent asks if you’ve ever been to Israel, what do you do?
- Lebanon is one of the few countries that I want to visit that I have yet to visit (see Where I’ve Been). By blogging, I have disclosed that I have been to Israel. How popular is TPOL in Lebanon? Is detention a certainty when I go? Obviously, there’s only one way to find out.
If you’ve gone to Israel, take note of this advice.