Panel stops 6-year-old from flying in with family, claims he’s already in Israel

Controversial permits committee maintains child is not in Ukraine with his parents and sibling, and therefore refuses him permission to return home

Passengers arriving in Israel on an emergency flight at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on February 3, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Illustrative: Passengers arriving in Israel on an emergency flight at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv on February 3, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The controversial panel deciding which Israelis are permitted to return to the country during a general closure of the borders has told a family they are allowed to fly back from Ukraine with the exception of 6-year-old son, who the committee falsely claims is still in Israel, according to a report Tuesday.

Kan News said the government’s Exceptions Committee approved the return of the two parents and one of their children, but not the second.

The parents told Kan that the child is with them in Ukraine, and that they simply have not been able to get the panel or any other official body in Israel to take responsibility for the error and correct it.

“We submitted a request for the whole family but we received an answer for only three. For the first request we did not receive a reason but with the second request, we were told the child is in Israel — they said ‘the child does not meet the criteria,'” father Michael Ivanov told the outlet.

Ben Gurion Airport, Israel’s main international hub, stands empty, Jan. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

The family said they were helpless in the face of Israeli bureaucracy and were sent from one ministry to another, with no official willing or able to fix the problem.

“It is inconceivable that they can approve requests for three out of four family members and forbid a six-year-old child from returning while making these strange allegations,” Ivanov said. “This is a government institution that should have a built-in ability to check who left the country and who did not.”

Israel’s land and air gateways have been largely closed since January 25, with Ben Gurion Airport shuttered for all but a few special flights by Israeli and some foreign airlines to bring back citizens stranded abroad, leaving thousands unable to return.

Entrance into the country requires special permission by the government’s Exceptions Committee that is granted on a case-by-case basis ahead of a flight.

The almost empty arrival hall at Ben Gurion Airport on February 28, 2021. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

However, the government’s permits committee has come under recent scrutiny, amid reports that ultra-Orthodox were given preferential treatment while numerous emergency requests by other Israelis were denied.

Channel 12 said last week that some 90 percent of those approved to come to Israel during the closure were Haredi, while many secular people’s requests were being denied. The network asserted that many Haredim were flying in using fraudulent permits, and that some had secured their authorizations through ties to ultra-Orthodox politicians. The claim has been contested by some other media reports, however.

An Israeli think tank on Sunday said Israel’s denial of entry to its own citizens represented an extreme erosion of rights, unparalleled in the democratic world.

Ministers on Tuesday were to discuss a plan to gradually reopen Ben-Gurion Airport ahead of the national elections later this month.

Passengers arriving on a flight from Frankfurt are given electronic monitoring bracelets to ensure they don’t violate quarantine. at Ben Gurion Airport, March 1, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel does not permit absentee voting, with the exception of diplomats stationed abroad.

The plan, details of which have yet to be disclosed, will be brought to the coronavirus cabinet, followed by a full cabinet vote.

Transportation Minister Miri Regev said Sunday that her ministry would propose a plan to the cabinet whereby all Israelis abroad would be permitted to return to Israel to vote. Hebrew media reports said Monday that the Transportation Ministry plan would also enable Israelis to leave the country, though not to high-infection destinations listed by the government.

Unvaccinated Israelis who enter the country will be forced to self-isolate in state-run hotels or quarantine at home with an electronic bracelet, reports said. Vaccinated Israelis will not be required to do so.

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