Extreme congestion was seen on Sunday at Ben Gurion Airport, as well as at the border crossings with Egypt and Jordan, as hundreds of thousands of Israelis left the country to vacation abroad over the Passover holiday, after two years of pandemic isolations and cancellations.
Long lines were seen at the Taba border crossing with Egypt, even in the early morning hours of Sunday. Thousands of Israelis waited for hours to cross en route to Sinai.
The National Security Council recently scaled back its travel warning for parts of Sinai for the first time in over a decade.
According to the Israel Airports Authority (IAA), some 5,000 Israelis were expected to enter Sinai over the course of Sunday, with at least 40,000 expected to pass through in the coming days.
“Whoever showed up in the early morning found themselves in a massive line. It’s completely crazy,” Israeli tourist Hila told Channel 12 news.
Israelis at the border crossing said that the holdup was mainly due to Egyptian officials.
“The Israelis are going through the paperwork very rapidly. The problem is with the Egyptian side, which is not ready for this volume of people,” traveler Aviv Hadar said.
The congestion came despite the inauguration Sunday of a new direct flight route between Israel and the Egyptian coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The agreement to launch the route was announced last month by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office, days before he flew to Sharm el-Sheikh for a trilateral summit with the leaders of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
The route is operated by Sundor, a subsidiary of national carrier El Al.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Israeli tourists were stranded Sunday at the border crossing between Israel and Jordan, after it was suddenly shut down due to the masses of people attempting to pass through.
מעל 5,000 נוסעים צפויים לעבור היום במעבר טאבה בדרך לסיני. במעבר הגבול ממליצים לנוסעים להגיע בשעות אחר הצהריים, בשל עומס הנוסעים הבוקר. גם במעבר רבין בדרך לעקבה נרשמו תורים ארוכים@sharonidan
(צילום ממעבר רבין: איתמר רפל) pic.twitter.com/wLHqXBLQse
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) April 17, 2022
According to Channel 12 news, some 200 Israelis were stuck on the Jordanian side of the border, while around 150 Israelis were waiting at the terminal of the Rabin Border Crossing near Aqaba in the summer heat, many without water or food.
According to the Jordanians, the border crossings were closed “due to congestion” after some 3,000 Israelis had already passed into the Jordanian resort city since Sunday morning.
Channel 12 said that Israeli officials were working with their counterparts in Jordan to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Israel’s main air terminal was also not spared the long lines, with half a million travelers expected to pass through Ben Gurion Airport this week, according to Channel 12.
An Israel Airports Authority official warned last week of long lines and delays, which he said were exacerbated by a staff shortage.