Jordan toughens border controls, irking Israelis on Passover vacation
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Jordan toughens border controls, irking Israelis on Passover vacation

Around 200 travelers stuck at crossing into Aqaba after Jordanian authorities demand they locate local minder before they enter

The southern Israeli city of Eilat and Jordanian city of Aqaba seen on December 18, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
The southern Israeli city of Eilat and Jordanian city of Aqaba seen on December 18, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israelis traveling to Jordan for the Passover holiday were stranded at the border due to new procedures put in place by Jordanian authorities requiring them to have a local escort accompany them into the country.

Around 200 travelers were stuck at the Wadi Araba border crossing near Eilat, the Ynet news site reported on Thursday.

Under the new rules if vacationers were refused entry and went back into Israel, they would not be allowed to try to reenter Jordan for 24 hours.

The new directives came days before the start of the week-long Passover holiday, when hundreds of thousands of Israelis travel abroad for vacation. No reason was given for the change.

Tomer Shaulov, an Israeli who works at a travel company in Eilat, where the crossing is located, called the decision “absurd.”

“It’s not clear what’s going on. The Jordanians decided that they want everyone to come in with a local guide so they’re not letting us cross. We have a hotel reservation in Aqaba. We didn’t even need a visa,” an Israeli stuck at the border terminal named Dror told Ynet.

After talks with Israeli diplomats, Jordanian officials eventually said they would suspend the rule for Israelis who plan only to stay in the seaside resort city of Aqaba, which is across the Red Sea gulf from Eilat.

Israel’s foreign ministry said that visitors remaining in Aqaba needed to show border authorities a copy of their hotel reservation in order get into the country.

To leave Aqaba, including to the nearby tourist destinations Petra and Wadi Rum, visitors needed to arrange a guide in advance, the foreign ministry said.

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