After first flight canceled, group of Arab Israeli students returns from Turkey
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After first flight canceled, group of Arab Israeli students returns from Turkey

Planned repatriation flight said scrapped after Ankara objected to presence of Israeli security guards; situation resolved after Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi intervened

Students fly back to Israel from Turkey, April 8, 2020 (Screen grab/Kan)
Students fly back to Israel from Turkey, April 8, 2020 (Screen grab/Kan)

A group of 110 Arab Israeli students landed Wednesday at Ben Gurion Airport on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

The students’ planned repatriation flight was canceled last week after Turkish authorities objected to the required presence of Israeli security guards, but the situation was reportedly resolved after Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi intervened.

The students are now in isolation at home or in specially designated hotels.

Israel has dispatched rescue flights to Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Australia and other destinations to bring travelers home, as international flights are slashed and countries placed on lockdown to weather the global outbreak of the highly contagious virus.

Joint list party member Ahmad Tibi arrives for a meeting at the Knesset on September 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Foreign Ministry on Monday said 1,863 Israeli travelers are stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic and seeking to return to the country, many of them in Thailand, New Zealand and Australia.

Israel has dispatched rescue flights to Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Australia and other destinations to bring backpackers home, as international flights are slashed and countries placed on lockdown to weather the global outbreak of the highly contagious virus.

According to the ministry, 200 Israelis are in Thailand, 179 in Australia, 164 in New Zealand, 144 in Argentina, 74 in Ukraine, 63 each in Mexico and Jordan, 55 in the Philippines, 51 in India, 31 in Colombia and 18 in Brazil.

The Israeli embassy in Argentina was trying to find enough passengers for a flight to bring Israelis currently stranded in the country back home on Saturday. The Ethiopian Airlines flight apparently needed a minimum of 60 passengers but did not yet have enough. Registration for the flight ends on Wednesday.

An Israeli backpacker disembarks an El Al flight from Lima, Peru, at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, March 2020 (Sivan Farage)

Separately, Russian tourists have slept in Ben Gurion Airport for four days after their flight was canceled last week and not rescheduled, according to the Kan public broadcaster. Some of the passengers have since moved to a hostel or stayed with relatives, but appear stranded in Israel indefinitely.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, and the two “agreed to enable movement between Russia and Israel so that citizens of the two countries will be able to return to home,” according to Netanyahu’s office.

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