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An Israeli who unintentionally spent several hours in Iran during an unscheduled layover on Friday night ended up leaving on a positive note, saying that Iran seemed like a "great country."
On Friday night, the plane - carrying 125 passengers on their way from Turkey to Mumbai, India - landed in the Iranian capital due to an electric fault and on Saturday, the plane was again forced to land in Teheran due to a hydraulics failure. The passengers, most of whom were Indian, were not allowed to leave the terminal because they did not have Iranian visas.
At the terminal, the Iranian security guards calmed Benny Medbedev's nerves somewhat when they told him: "We know you're Israeli, but you don't have to worry," Israel Radio reported.
According to Medbedev, the guards were friendly, and he was given a carved wooden box as a parting gift.
"They asked me what I thought of Iran," he said. "I said it seems like a great country, but all I've seen of it was [the area] from the plane to the terminal."
When he got back on the plane the second time, he said, one of the Iranians said, "I hope to see you again in Iran." Medbedev, in turn, invited him to visit Jerusalem.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the Iranian authorities were not aware an Israeli citizen was one of the passengers on the grounded flight.
However, Medbedev decided to reveal his nationality to the flight's captain and crew.
Turkish Airlines sent a replacement airplane to Teheran, and the 125 passengers eventually took off for Mumbai, with Medbedev safely on board the plane.
He was met in Mumbai by representatives of the Israeli consulate.
Like many tourists, the single Israeli passenger on the flight used the services of Turkish Airlines because of its cheap flights.
El Al flights to India do not enter the airspace of hostile countries. Their flights are consequently longer and more expensive.