Israeli Security Hates iPad

I had a pretty interesting experience going through security at Ben Gurion airport — I almost didn’t make it through. I had heard the airport security in Israel was different but I had no idea. They spent about an hour asking questions, turning on (and taking apart) every piece of the 20+ electronic items I travel with, with particular attention and questions around my iPad. They took it out of the Apple case, turned it on, scanned it, took it away for 10 minutes to scan somewhere else, asked if anyone else in Israel had used it, when I last used it, asked when I got it, and ultimately said that their “technology team” had not cleared it for carry-on and they would need to pack it in a special box, wrap it, tape it, and check it directly with Continental (I couldn’t touch it or the box except to put some WP stickers on so I could identify it later). Wowza! My Sony PC, though, is safe to fly with. No wonder I saw so few Apple products at WordCamp. 🙂

59 thoughts on “Israeli Security Hates iPad

    1. rain-you’d have to ask Steve why he makes an entire country jump through hoops to get his products. Check out the old FB group “Bring the iPhone to Israel” for background. But that was then and this is now and now we only have to pay an arm and a leg for them. :/

  1. Interesting… The Mossad probably has copied the entire contents of your iPad and is analyzing it right now.

    “WordCamp …. hum. You are here for business or pleasure? Both? This is impossible – give me your iPad!”

    But honestly you and your iPad not seem so potentially dangerous as well.

    I’m just kidding, but this is the price we all must pay for some security.

  2. 🙂 I had similar experience with Israeli security in the Prague airport. They were checking my cell phone for 15 minutes; battery out, “show us how to use it please”, “type the PIN yourself”. I don’t even want to imagine how long I’d stay there with 20+ gadgets like you lol…well on the other hand they do it for our safety.

  3. The story of iPad and customs in Israel is (sadly) not new.

    Earlier this year they wouldn’t allow the import of iPads by private people due to wi-fi issues.

    It might be the reason the people at security had so little experience with the iPad.

    Sorry you had to go through that, and hope that other parts of your travel here where good.

    Your visit to Israel was an inspiration to people, including myself, to push the growth of the Israeli WordPress community even further. I hope to see you here again in the next WordCamp(s) in Israel to come.


  4. When I went through Israeli security, they up-ended ALL of my stuff, swab checked every time twice for explosives, including my check in and carry-on luggage. Then on going through the checkin security point, they rescanned my bag 10x, whilst the guy behind me was found to have a live M16 round in his carry-on luggage, but they only scanned his stuff once and let him go straight on after apologising for having to confiscate his bullet!!!!


    They do allow you to take more than 100 mL of water on board though which is pretty handy 🙂

      1. They seemed quite obsessed with my batteries. I had them scattered throughout my carry on luggage, and every time I upended my bag, they kept finding more hidden in crevices in my back pack. They’re so small that I decided they were perfect for jamming into every knook and cranny in my bag (it was splitting at the seams with junk).

        I asked them why they were so interested in them, but they wouldn’t tell me what it was that looked suspicious. I’m guessing they may have looked a little like tiny explosives, but I’m not really sure.

        Vicky was stressing out like crazy, although I just sort of stood there and smiled at them in my sleep state as they continuously checked my stuff.

        Israeli border control are about 200x friendlier than the USA border control people at least.

    1. The guy could have been Mossad agent returning from overseas mission with excess of bullet. He must have told the airport security it was too much to carry for so long. In return the airport security must have said sorry for him to have gone through all the trouble of carrying for so long and did him a service by taking it away for him to the office? LOL

  5. If, as a country, people hate you so much that you need these harsh security measures, then that gives food for thought I guess.

  6. Sorry you had to go through that Matt. I think they do various tests on electronic devices to make sure they aren’t fake, but maybe aren’t familiar enough with iPads to make that call.

    Apple products are not Israel-friendly. First, it took ages for the iPhone to get here. And I just chose a BlackBerry over an iPhone because there is no iPhone insurance allowed in Israel (by Apple’s orders). I’m too clumsy with expensive portable devices to be uninsured.

  7. Israeli security are not all as genius as their made out to be, and have their dumb moments. As a semi-Israeli, I’d insist on taking it with me, and ask them for concrete reasoning. Last i’ve heard customs didn’t let iPads in because they didn’t go through the wireless approval bureaucracy yet, but that shouldn’t be a problem on the way out. Sounds extremely weird.

  8. Hey Matt –

    I flew from TLV to JFK on Delta this past Friday with my iPad (iPhone, D300s + accessories, iPod Nano and Macbook Pro all carried on) with no problem. They didn’t look at anything but my computer. I counted though and from one country to the other was 9 security checks. Kinda comforting I guess.

  9. Bummer! I’ve seen this from time to time though, like when I was flying through Guatemala. The flight I was taking, they didn’t even let me turn on my iPhone in Airplane-mode so I could play games and listen to music, they made me keep it off the entire time. At least I was allowed to fly with it, however.

    And at least you got the iPad back (and it didn’t get stolen like your camera equipment while flying through Philly on US Airways)

  10. Hey Matt, it was great meeting you at Wcjeru. I was the guy with the Vibrams FiveFingers.

    This seems to be some leftover effect from the temporary IPad ban here a few months ago:

    I’m not sure why you were put under the microscope by airport security but they usually either have a very good reason or a very bad one i.e. a dumb order from above. At least you got yours back.

  11. Wow… I thought I hated Apple! They let you take your laptop on without problems even though it is more capable than the iPad. A bunch of idiots if you ask me but hey, they’re just doing their job.

  12. Israeli security is the toughest in the world. I have gone through Israeli security many times. Having experienced some terror attacks in Israel and having many friends in the army along with my own experiences i have come to admire Israeli security and miss the country plenty.

  13. I don’t see why a person would travel with 20+ electronic items anyway, even if you are on a business trip. Although the reaction of the Israel security was a little to harsh. But at the same time you can’t blame them for being a little paranoid with the current international tensions.

    1. Mark, the ban was just an excuse for the sole importer of Apple products in Israel to retain their monopoly. Now iPads are available in Israel – for double the price in the States!

  14. Wow, Matt! That’s intense with the iPad. 🙂 I assume this was leaving Israel, not going in? I went through Ben Gurion security in ’06 … amazingly easy and hassle-free getting in the country (which I thought would be hard), but extremely difficult getting out. They questioned, searched me, twice on both counts. Followed by a full inspection of luggage and all electronics. Quite amazing trying to get out of there!

  15. Maybe the guards are WP fans and just wanted to hang out?

    Maybe the secret is to travel with less electronics. I hear 19 is the magic number these days.

  16. Opps. Sorry I didn’t prepare you for that. Did you actually SEE them wrap it up carefully and pad it? They didn’t do that to my stuff and it arrived banged and cracked. Hard drive failed four days later. When traveling there, I now bring my own bubble wrap and mailers just in case. Too many years living there and getting all kinds of fun through security.

    Someday I need to tell you about my father’s experience. A 70 year old in failing health held for four hours of inspection and interrogation. It’s actually a very funny story. And he wasn’t carrying any electronics, not even a cell phone. 😀

  17. I had the same issue with my iPad this week…..they made me check my iPad after…they searched my stuff and questioned me for a good 45 mins, while another person scanned my dirty underwear and took my iPad for an offsite scan….wasn’t fun or expected. It is nice to read it happened to someone else!