RAMALLAH, August 23 (JMCC) - Blogger Aziz Abu Sarah describes how
Israeli police arrested him and his Palestinian tour guide, despite that the guide was carrying all the proper documents to work in Israel
When the police saw HJ’s green identity card (ID’s issued by Israel are color-coded; Israeli citizens get blue IDs, Palestinians get green ones), they were visibly overcome by excitement and a big smile appeared on their faces. They behaved like they made a big catch. They ignored the fact that HJ had a travel permit and a license to work in Israel. I actually heard them say:”Even if he can work in Israel, he couldn’t possibly be a licensed tour guide.” HJ’s tour guiding license was also disregarded.
I tried to explain to the officers that HJ was legal and can work in Israel according to my understanding of the permit. I even called HJ’s lawyer who assured me of the same. But by then, the officers were more interested in their next arrest: Myself.
The police officers decided to arrest me for hiring HJ. I was accused of employing an illegal alien. I tried to reason with the officers but I was speaking to deaf ears. There seemed to be no hope in explaining anything. We were both asked to turn off our phones and not to make any phone calls to anyone, including lawyers. We were also told to stop talking to each other.
Israel in recent years has made it increasingly difficult for Palestinians to work as tour guides, restricting their accreditation.