As you probably know, Israel has serious diplomatic problems with the neighbouring countries and if you have a certain evidence of entering Israel, some Muslim countries such as Syria and Lebanon wouldn't allow you to enter their territory. (So far, you can enter Jordan and Egypt WITH an Israeli stamp on your passport as they formally established diplomatic relationships)
As I mentioned at the previous entry about Amman, the backpackers travelling around this area have two options to avoid this problem; asking "no stamp" at the Israeli passport control and taking the risk of a lengthy interrogation OR going to Syria and Lebanon beforehand and submitting the passport without reluctance. I chose latter as the troubles for the "No stamp" process would bother me although most travellers prefer the former. Besides, it would be funny to have an Israeli stamp next to the Syrian one.
As Israel is exposed to the threat of terrorism, the severe security check began even before the boarding process at Istanbul airport. When I was queuing for the check-in counter, two Israeli officers started a passport inspection with some questions. And one of the officer's hands became completely motionless when he checked my passport. Indeed I had pages of stamps of Syria and Lebanon which are officially at war with Israel. Besides, they look glum with the other Arabic letters such as Egypt and UAE.
After this, they totally changed their attitude and questioned me about every detail starting from my purpose of the trip, family structure, occupation, how I managed to save up such a large amount of money for the trip and the like. I just answered the questions as I hadn't done anything wrong but due to the delay caused by this inspection, I had no time to stay at the airport lounge. The flight time was only 2 hours which was shorter than the whole procedure at the airport. As Turkey faces Israel over the Mediterranean, it's very close in fact.
At the Tel Aviv airport's passport control, literaly the final gate of Israel, I presented my passport without any hesitation. However, the officer became motionless again when she was checking the other stamps. After some exemplary questions, she picked up her headset and started talking. After a little while the other officer came and I was instructed to follow him. Well, it seemed like I was sent to the special room for suspected people. Besides, my passport was still in the officer's hand at the gate. Though it's a special room, the space looked like a waiting room separated by a partition from the main area and some people were already nervously sitting on the hard chairs which are very typical at airports.
Fortunately or unfortunately, there was wi-fi available at the area and I could kill my time by tweeting my situation in real time (on reflection, I wonder they might have censored my network traffics) but after waiting and waiting my name was not called at all. It looked like it all depended on the officers' judgment who is to be picked up. I noticed some people who came after me were called immediately but some had been waiting since before my arrival. Although a few people demonstrated their irritation, I tried to be calm but expose a little anxiety. Anyway, in the worst case, I could've been expelled from the country but it would've become a part of my funny travel talk likewise the other accidents.
After 2 hours or so, finally my name was called and a beautiful female officer took me to her office for the private interrogation. Some of my friends had told me before, Israel government intentionally choose beautiful people for the personnel who have chances to contact with foreigners and I suppose it could be true from this experience. Sitting in a tiny room, a beautiful lady was asking me a lot of private question. What a bizarre situation it was.
The questions were basically the same as the ones at the departure gate of the Istanbul airport for double check. Anyway I have no reason to tell any lies and just answered the question again. But her attitude was so cute and cunning. For the reason of the trip to Syria, I answered "I'm travelling around the world at the moment and interested in the culture of this area. But some countries such as Syria would refuse me if I had the Israeli stamp. So I decided to go there before Israel." and she commented "Oh, I didn't know that" with a mean smile. How come she was acting so sadistically yet enchantingly? "Well, Israel is a good country because you can enter with the Syrian stamp?" YES, absolutely.
After all, the interrogation finished in 15 minutes and she handed me my passport with a sheet of paper saying "Ok, you can go. Bring this paper to the passport control." It was an indulgence; just passing the sheet of paper I finally entered Israel. But I realised a very important fact that I hadn't gotten the stamp on my passport. I'd heard it would be possible to ask "no stamp" at the airport. But I hadn't had the faintest idea of applying it for me. I rather wanted to get the one though, it was for the best; I'll be able to travel to the other Muslim countries later.