PM forced to spend extra night in Warsaw after plane damaged
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PM forced to spend extra night in Warsaw after plane damaged

New aircraft being sent from Israel after pushback tractor crashes into plane, stranding Netanyahu and entourage in Poland

Flight crew stand in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's damaged plane on February 15, 2019. (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)
Flight crew stand in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's damaged plane on February 15, 2019. (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to extend his trip to Warsaw Friday after the plane on which he was scheduled to fly home was damaged just ahead of takeoff.

According to El Al, the prime minister’s plane, a Boeing 777, was damaged by a pushback tractor that crashed into it as Netanyahu was about to leave just after midnight.

A new plane was being sent from Israel to Warsaw to bring the prime minister and his entourage back, the airline said.

An official with Netanyahu’s office said the new flight was expected to leave Warsaw at around 9:30 a.m.

A Warsaw airport vehicle that damaged the plane that was supposed to take Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back to Israel, February 15, 2019 (Raphael Ahren)

Netanyahu, his wife and senior staff, returned to the Warsaw Intercontinental, where they had been staying since Tuesday. Traveling press were being put up in a hotel near the military airport.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deboarding a damaged plane in Warsaw on February 15, 2019. (Raphael Ahren/ Times of Israel)

Netanyahu would likely need to take off before late Friday morning to make it back to Israel before sundown and the start of the Jewish day of rest.

While the prime minister is not religiously observant, high level public officials generally avoid public displays of transgressing the laws of Shabbat, which forbid traveling.

Netanyahu had been scheduled to leave Warsaw after arriving early Wednesday for an international conference focused on Middle East security.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left, foreground) with other leaders at the conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, on February 14, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Edna Halbani, an official in the Prime Minister’s Office who has been arranging flights for premiers for decades, said Ehud Barak also had to contend with a damaged plane during a trip to Atlanta in 1999.

Netanyahu does not have his own plane, but charters jets from the national El-Al carrier which are then outfitted for his needs. The government is in the process of purchasing an official plane for use by the prime minister.

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