A musician from East Jerusalem has said Israeli officials jeopardised his band’s UK tour last week by withholding his electric guitar at security at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Apo Sahagian, the lead singer of Apo and the Apostles, said security officials held his guitar back for further testing, promising that it would be on the next EasyJet flight to Luton, but after three days there was still no sign.
“I don’t understand,” said Sahagian, speaking to Jewish News. “I don’t know why they made a big deal. They asked me where my band is from, I said Bethlehem, maybe they got suspicious. I’m an East Jerusalumite – they treat us like a virus. They were just being a**holes. There’s no explanation security-wise.”
In repeated calls to EasyJet, Sahagian said the airline told him that the £4,000 “sentimental” guitar was still with Ben-Gurion security team, but Ofer Lefler, a spokesman for the Airports Authority, denied this.
He said the guitar was taken for additional screening “but was then immediately turned over to the airline,” adding that Israeli ground handling services said the guitar “has been transferred to London”.
Sahagian, an Armenian, managed to complete the band’s UK tour by borrowing a guitar, but was left with “a bitter taste” and convinced that the reason for his missing luggage was his band’s mainly Palestinian following, and their Bethlehem base.
“It’s a psychological burden,” he said, explaining that he has an Israeli ID and Israeli travel documents. “They treat you like a virus that they have to quarantine. There’s no doubt that it’s because I’m from E Jerusalem. We’re treated as if we’re the worst kind of foreigner.”