RAMALLAH, Feb 10 (JMCC) - The Guardian's Harriet Sherwood describes
the journey through Israel
's terminal leading in and out of the Gaza Strip
The return journey has three additional features. First, your crossing back to Israel has to be cleared by the Israeli authorities before you can embark on the long walk. Second, once inside the deserted terminal, you have to open your bags and cases and lay them on a table for remote inspection, presumably via a camera. A series of red and green lights indicate when you may proceed.
Everything you are carrying - money, phones, laptop, luggage, belts, jackets - is placed in trays to be scanned. Clutching only your passport, legs apart and arms in the air, you pass through a full body scanner. You are reunited with your possessions after a plastic-gloved security official has gone through them in close detail.
Sometimes an electronic arrow flashes, pointing to the right. You go through a further series of doors until you reach a room, the floor of which is a metal grid over a large empty space. This happened to me when leaving Gaza this week. From behind a glass window, a female Israeli official asked me through a speaker to take off my jumper and t-shirt and pass them twice through a security scanner. She then gestured to me to unzip my trousers and open the fly wide - we need to see your stomach, she said through the intercom. After a few minutes in this state of undress, she pointed to the door, indicating I could put my clothes back on and go.