At Haifa the customs hall was big and imposing. All sorts of families and groups were lined up to get on the boat. There were three boats leaving that day – Heraklion, Athens and Port Said. Ours was due to leave first, stopping at Limassol and Rhodes before arriving at Heraklion.
When it came to our turn to go through customs, the two girls were waved on through but us four boys were taken aside. We were taken to individual curtained-off cubicles. I was told to strip from the waist down. The presence of two Israeli soldiers with the border guard made me realise that there was to be no negotiating here.
I took off my trousers and pants. I was forced to bend over on to a table. The search was thorough, and rough to say the least. After the cavity search, they emptied my bag and went through everything. Every meagre element of my life was scrutinised by these three men in uniform, while I pulled my clothes back on. A bag of washing powder was taken away for testing. My camera was opened up and the film was lost. After they had finished they declared me fit to leave the country.
I sat there ruined, in a pile of my possessions and stopped myself from crying.
I packed my bag, and walked out of the room and onto the boat.
“L’hitraot,” said the man checking my ticket and passport. “See you soon”.
“Yeah, well, Shalom and all that” thought I “but you won’t be seeing me again”.