I’ll be visiting Jordan and Israel soon in a guided (recreational) group tour. The group will be some 20 people in size. The organiser gave us beautiful leaflets on what to expect in the countries we are visiting. I stumbled across the following sentence (translated from the German original) in the Israel leaflet and startled:

Sometimes laptops are withheld for inspection upon departure and later sent on.

I will admit that I am being slightly paranoid, but I am generally very unhappy to leave my laptop in someone else’s control if it was their idea (and not mine). Even if it is security forces. I realised in this question, that it would be a generally very bad idea to decline airport security or emigration officers their desire to search my laptop. Instead, I am seriously debating leaving my trusted laptop at home for the trip with all the drawbacks implied. But sometimes it doesn’t hurt to get a reality check.

How likely is it for one’s laptop to be withheld due to security reasons, meaning I’ll have to board my plane without it?

The reason I am asking here is the travel organiser’s word choice of gelegentlich in German. From patient information leaflets of medicine, that word is used to describe side-effects that happen to 0.1–1 % of all subjects. That already sounds like a threshold I’m uncomfortable with.

Answers should ideally supply a percentage of withheld laptops based on total laptop (or traveller) count. But ‘I’ve never seen that happen and I fly from Tel Aviv three times a week’, is also good enough.

Note that I am explicitly taking about the laptop being withheld while I board my plane back. Try not to include those counts where either I just log onto my account to prove it’s my laptop, or they take it for inspection into a neighbouring room but I can get it back before I board the plane.

In case it matters: I am a German citizen and to the best of my knowledge the entire group is entirely made up of German citizens.

  • 1
    How likely? Are you expecting a percentage? It's not like they're taking every .1% most likely, it'll more likely be 'that person today looks suspicious, let's check them'
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 0:49
  • 1
    @MarkMayo Believe it or not I would love a percentage because I’m a scientist. Yeah, it will boil down to how suspicious one has to be so I know actual numbers may be misleading.
    – Jan
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 0:51
  • 8
    They didn't mention that sometimes laptops get shot at several times with a gun, for security reasons, and then sent on
    – user102008
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 1:11
  • 1
    @user102008 reassuring … O___O'''''
    – Jan
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 1:15
  • 2
    If you aren't coming from Egypt with Syrian entry stamps in your passport, like that woman who got her laptop shot, you probably will be OK. Commented May 13, 2016 at 3:04

2 Answers 2


I don't think anyone can give you a percentage, because it is based on suspicion of the individual, and also because security agencies do not release such information. However, I have visited Israel a number of times, and in my experience, TLV security has been significantly easier and more rational than security at major U.S. airports or at LHR. Especially departure security (as opposed to Customs on arrival) would be unlikely to hold your laptop. Given that you are part of a tour group of German citizens, it seems unlikely they would suspect it was an explosive, and even if they did, they'd ask you to turn it on, and possibly examine it further, but there would be no reason for them to seize it. Sometimes, Customs agencies in any country might seize a laptop or cell phone in order to examine the contents if they suspect a person has illegal material (e.g., child porn in the U.S., banned political material in countries without political freedom), but that happens on arrival.


How likely is it for one’s laptop to be withheld due to security reasons, meaning I’ll have to board my plane without it?

From the limited experience of myself and my friends - this is extremely unlikely, since what is much more likely to happen is for them to detain both you and your laptop... That is, Israeli airport security has a tendency to detain people, and I'm not aware of a tendency to detain people's devices.

But just to clarify - this is not an authoritative answer in any way.

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