Israeli arrested in Abu Dhabi for unruly behavior given large fine and expelled

Nachman Gabai, who suffers from PTSD, required to pay $16,000 fine after clash with police outside city’s international airport

Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2022. (CC BY-SA Moleoz/Wikipedia)
Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2022. (CC BY-SA Moleoz/Wikipedia)

A 21-year-old Israeli arrested 10 days ago in Abu Dhabi was granted a release from custody on Thursday, with a United Arab Emirates court imposing a NIS 58,000 ($16,500) fine, Walla reported.

Nachman Gabai, from Jerusalem, was arrested after he became involved in a verbal altercation with a police officer outside Abu Dhabi’s international airport during a stopover on his way to India.

The Abu Dhabi court decided to release Gabai earlier this week, but he was held in custody until his family was able to produce the NIS 58,000 fine. He was also ordered to leave the Gulf state following his release, Walla reported.

Mordechai Tzivin, an Israeli lawyer who helped Gabai gain his release, told Walla: “I thank the law enforcement system in Abu Dhabi for the high level of human rights, good relations, and the consideration and understanding that Nachman was mistakenly involved in a minor and insignificant incident.”

Alongside Tzivin, Israeli consul Dani Gadot and Chabad emissary to the UAE Rabbi Levi Duchman were involved in securing the 21-year-old’s release.

Gabai, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, left the terminal building and was standing with another Israeli when a police patrol car came by and asked the pair to identify themselves, according to reports.

Illustrative. Downtown Abu Dhabi at sunset. (Mohamad Kaddoura via iStock by Getty Images)

Gabai apparently became agitated at the situation and spoke harshly, raising officers’ suspicions and leading them to ask him to undergo a search at the airport station. There, he was strip-searched and his belongings were examined. Though nothing was found in the searches, Gabai became even more agitated at the circumstances, and eventually, officers placed him under arrest.

“He reacts badly to stressful situations due to post-traumatic stress, and he probably reacted in a very unpleasant way, but that was his only sin,” Gabai’s mother Ronit told Maariv prior to his release.

“The guy who was next to him said that he really panicked, but they interpreted it as if he had something to hide while he was afraid that they were going to do things to him. It’s a misunderstanding that got more and more complicated.”

Israel normalized ties with the UAE under the US-sponsored Abraham Accords in 2020. Since then, it has become a popular tourist destination for Israelis while also serving as a gateway to the east.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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