"Hello. I am calling from your cell phone company. Can you please give me your name?," said the heavily-accented voice of an Israeli female when I picked up the line.
"Excuse me, who is this?," I said while attempting to swallow a bite of lunch.
"This is your cell phone company. Please tell me your name and where you live," said the voice.
"Oh, of course," I said. "My cell phone company! And why are you calling me?," I said without revealing a thing.
"I am calling because a mysterious call was made to an "022" number. I am calling to make sure that your phone was not stolen."
"Well, I can assure you that my phone is not stolen since I am answering it," I said.
Instantly I knew that the "022" number in question was the call that I made yesterday to my tutor from Bethlehem, the elderly Christian woman who lost her husband two weeks ago.
"Tell me your name and address and how long you will be in Israel," the voice continued.
"I will tell you nothing until you verify for me who you are--your name and an employee number?"
"I cannot tell you this," said the voice. "If you do not cooperate now, I will shut down your line."
"Ok...here's some information for you and whoever is listening--my name is Namaste," I said. "And this should be more than enough information for you. If a number was flagged from my line, I can assure you that it was a misdialed number and it will not happen again."
"But what if your phone was stolen? I will need your address confirmed. If you do not give me this, I will shut down your phone."
"Tell you what, my dear," I replied, "I will be happy to give you this information when I call your company to report a stolen phone. But since I have not called to report a stolen phone, you have no need for this information."
She threatened to shut down my phone again as I summarily hung up.
My next call was to the company directly. Yes, my phone line has been blocked until more verification can be made. Apparently, calls to Bethlehem are considered "unusual destinations".
And yes, these calls are flagged by this particular company and monitored by the state.
Welcome to Israel.