For Arab Student Going to Ariel, the Message Is 'Yalla, Get Off the Bus'

Iniya Daher, a Tel Aviv resident, says security guards forced her off a bus at gunpoint on her way to Ariel University Center in the West Bank.

An Arab student says security guards humiliated her and forced her off a bus at gunpoint on her way to Ariel University Center in the West Bank.

Iniya Daher, a Tel Aviv resident about to begin her third year of multidisciplinary and criminology studies, uses public transportation and usually has no problems going through the Sha'ar Shomron checkpoint on her way to Ariel. A week and a half ago, two security guards heard her speaking Arabic on the bus.

"I was on my way back from the college. We reached the checkpoint and, as usual, two guards boarded the bus," she told Haaretz. "When I speak Arabic on my cell phone, it's usually enough to give them my ID for inspection, as is almost always the case with Arab students or people going though a checkpoint. But this time it didn't work."

The guards weren't satisfied with the ID.

"They began questioning me, and I explained that I live in Tel Aviv and study in Ariel. But they didn't believe me," she said. "When I offered to show them my student card, one of the guards pointed his gun at me and said crudely: 'Yalla, get off the bus.'"

Daher says she was searched by the guards and a female guard.

"The search included my computer and personal things; it was very humiliating. I have to add that this happens a lot to Arab students. I just don't understand this attitude," she said.

"A year ago I witnessed a woman who was forced off the bus because she had a head covering. I'm talking about an Israeli citizen from one of the nearby Arab villages. At the time I felt sorry for her, and now it was my turn to be in this situation."

Daher spent last weekend with relatives in Nazareth, but she's still far from cooling down. "It really hurt me, and I considered cutting my studies short, but I've almost completed my BA," she said.

"There are dozens of other Arab students at Ariel, and it's a shame someone thinks they should be humiliated at the checkpoint. That's why I feel I have to tell my story to the press. Anyone who has never gone through such a humiliation has no idea how it feels. In a second you become a suspect just because you're an Arab."

The Defense Ministry, for its part, said that in this case there had been no deviation from the directives of the police and the Shin Bet security service.

"The process ... [of] building modern crossings and using professional personnel has improved services at the checkpoints and decreased the number of complaints," the ministry said.

"Still, the checkpoints are there to protect the security of Israeli citizens, and the Defense Ministry's checkpoint authority will continue to do everything necessary, under the procedures, to protect Israel's citizens."