On El Al flight from New York, many young men planning to join the fight

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Israelis waiting at the gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport for an El Al flight to Israel on October 8, 2023 (Hillel Zand)
Israelis waiting at the gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport for an El Al flight to Israel on October 8, 2023 (Hillel Zand)

A full El Al flight from New York lands at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport at 4 a.m. Monday morning. The flight’s passengers are of all ages, but a disproportional number are young men returning to Israel to serve in the army, either as conscripted soldiers as reservists.

Many are lone soldiers without immediate family in Israel. As the plane lands, the pilot announces that rides to soldiers’ homes, military bases or units have been arranged for those who need them. In addition, a free bus was available outside the terminal to shuttle people to Tel Aviv’s Savidor train station.

The airport’s arrivals hall was packed with Israelis returning home, while the departure hall and gates — usually full of Israelis leaving on flights to European destinations — were relatively deserted.

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