Dozens of Israelis briefly detained, refused entry at airport in Ukraine
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Dozens of Israelis briefly detained, refused entry at airport in Ukraine

Foreign Ministry says group released following intervention of embassy in Kiev; MK says detention apparently tit-for-tat after Ukrainians are denied entry to Israel

A group of detained Israelis speak with Ukrainian security guards at Kiev Boryspil International Airport on February 2018, 2019. (Screen capture: YouTube)
A group of detained Israelis speak with Ukrainian security guards at Kiev Boryspil International Airport on February 2018, 2019. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Dozens of Israelis were temporarily detained and prevented from entering Ukraine on Friday, amid a sharp rise in the number of Ukrainians refused entry to Israel.

The Israelis were released following the intervention of the embassy in Kiev, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said.

Twenty-eight of the 35 detained were allowed to enter the country, according to the Ynet news site, while the rest purchased tickets for elsewhere.

A number of the Israelis said it was not clear why they were not being allowed into Ukraine and the Foreign Ministry said it had instructed the embassy to seek a clarification.

Video from the airport showed a group of Israelis arguing with security guards and saying they had been at the airport for over 24 hours.

Israelis detained at Kiev Boryspil International Airport in Ukraine are seen in video aired by Channel 12 news on February 15, 2019. (Screen capture: Channel 12)

Yesh Atid MK Yoel Razvozov said the detention was apparently “revenge for the conduct of Israeli immigration authorities at Ben Gurion Airport toward Ukrainian tourists requesting to enter Israel,” the Walla news site reported.

Razvozov said he assisted in the efforts to secure the Israelis release and had reached out to a Ukrainian official on the matter.

According to Ynet, 4,430 Ukrainians were denied entry to Israel last year, up from 1,400 in 2017, despite the two countries having a visa free travel agreement for their citizens.

Israel turned away 19,000 people in total during 2018, an all-time record.

The Globes business daily reported in December that tourists from eastern European countries often are scrutinized more because they are more likely coming to work illegally in the country and sometimes to immigrate. Tourists are also turned away if they are likely to immigrate unlawfully.

JTA contributed to this report.

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