Citizens stuck abroad after airport closure permitted to return

Hundreds of Israelis who flew out of Israel before the government closed Ben Gurion airport and were stranded abroad have now been given permission to return to Israel.

The departure hall of an almost empty Ben-Gurion Airport, January 25, 2021.  (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
The departure hall of an almost empty Ben-Gurion Airport, January 25, 2021.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
Israeli citizens who left the country before the imposition of a ban on all commercial flights leaving and entering the country at the end of January have now been permitted to return to the country.
Ben Gurion international airport was shut on Jan. 25 to all commercial flights due to the government’s concerns over the entry of COVID-19 variants into the country and has remained close since that date.
The decision left hundreds of Israelis who left the country before that date but expected to be able to return stranded, allowing only those who gained specific approval by a special government committee to return.
New regulations have now been drawn up which extend the closure of the airport but which grant all citizens who left the country lawfully before Jan. 25 the legal right to return.
The regulations have been approved by the cabinet and are now operative, although the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee is currently reviewing them.
A petition to the High Court of Justice was filed on Wednesday challenging the ban on citizens re-entering the country.
Blue and White MK Michal Cotler-Wunsh who has been active assisting Israelis stranded abroad said the policy had caused severe difficulties for many people, especially new immigrants who often have frequent cause to travel abroad.  
“The chaos of the airport closure that has left countless Israeli citizens stranded abroad is yet another example of the imperative for clear, transparent, and accessible policy,” said Cotler-Wunsh
“I have received nearly a hundred, if not more, emails and messages from Olim who traveled to visit their families or for business and are now stuck and desperate for information, compounding the personal, familial, and professional challenges at these time of uncertainty for all."