Israelis stranded in New York, New Jersey after flights banned

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered all flights scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion Airport to be halted temporarily on Saturday.

A nearly deserted 7th Avenue in Times Square is seen near midday in Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 7, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR)
A nearly deserted 7th Avenue in Times Square is seen near midday in Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 7, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR)
Some 60 Israelis are currently stuck in New Jersey and 70 more in New York, all of whom were due to return home from the US on Saturday night but became stranded until Monday due to Israel placing a temporary ban on all flight arrivals.
Evelyne Diaz Araque, a student at Clark University, told The Jerusalem Post that she was supposed to take off from Newark on Saturday night.
"About a month ago, the university moved to remote learning, and I decided to wait until the end of the semester to return home to Israel,” she said. “I booked the nearest possible flight, which was on Saturday, from Boston to Tel Aviv through Newark.”
“Upon arrival to Newark, I heard that Israel decided to cancel future flights,” she continued. “Still, It took about four hours to receive any update from United Airlines. There were some 60 Israelis on that flight; most of them are not from the New York area. Some people left their houses with all their belongings; older people and pregnant women. The scene was chaotic. We don't want to stay in New York, the world's epicenter of coronavirus.”
Diaz Araque told the Post that the airport was entirely closed and that she couldn't even buy a bottle of water. “At some point, we all signed a document with our names and ID, in which we committed to going to any hotel the Defense Ministry will direct us to when landing in Israel, but to no avail. United representatives told us that once a flight is canceled, only on rare occasions will it go back to be active.”
The passengers received a voucher for two nights in a hotel; the next flight is due to leave on Monday at 4 p.m., but it is not an ideal situation, Diaz Araque says. “That flight is fully booked, which means that it's a higher risk of infection. The feeling is like nobody cares, not the government in Israel or United Airlines.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered all flights scheduled to land at Ben-Gurion Airport to be halted temporarily on Saturday, after nationals arriving from coronavirus hot spots were found to have returned to their homes rather than entering quarantine at coronavirus hotels, as directed. 
Flights were permitted to recommence after a ministerial committee meeting took place, which included Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, where the ministers agreed that the Defense Ministry will now manage arrivals and assure that they will be quarantined.
“The State of Israel will not close its doors to Israelis returning home,” Smotrich said. “I thank the prime minister for making the right, moral decision. Kol Yisrael arevim zeh la zeh [All Jews are responsible for one another] is a fundamental element of the State of Israel.”


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