Suspicions Haredi passengers on NY-Tel Aviv flight forged COVID tests while ill

Authorities suspect passengers on a so-called rescue flight from New York to Tel Aviv Sunday boarded the plane with forged negative coronavirus tests, while carrying the pathogen.

At least 11 of the ultra-Orthodox passengers on the flight, approved despite the general flight ban to enable Israelis abroad to return to the country, have been diagnosed with the virus since arriving, sending dozens of passengers on the flight into quarantine.

Passengers report hearing some of those same passengers boasting they had acquired fake negative test results to board the flight.

El Al planes parked at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, Israel, on August 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A passenger tells Channel 12 the ultra-Orthodox passengers also failed to wear masks for much of the time and stood near other passengers. He says repeated requests to flight attendants to enforce mask-wearing and distancing did not help, and that the latter were afraid of confronting the Haredi passengers on the matter.

The Health Ministry in coordination with other investigative authorities is probing whether the passengers forged their tests.