Dream vacation turns nightmare as Israelis argue about masks on flight

"We just came back from an amazing place, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and it took one second for us to forget all about it," one passenger said.

Arkia airplane 370 (photo credit: reuters)
Arkia airplane 370
(photo credit: reuters)
A heated argument over a passenger who refused to wear a protective mask on board a return flight from the Seychelles to Israel quickly turned violent, Israeli media reported. 
Israelis have been drawn in increasing numbers to the Seychelles, an exotic archipelagic island country in the Indian Ocean offering dream-like vacations, thanks to its recent decision to accept Israelis without any isolation requirements. Thousands have jumped at the opportunity, as Israeli airlines began offering cheap flights and appealing deals.
But it seems like a relaxing vacation wasn't enough to prevent the unusual incident that developed on an Arkia flight that departed the Seychelles for Israel a few days ago.
The flight was a pleasant one, apparently, until several passengers noticed one passenger wasn't wearing a mask. They asked him to put one on but he refused, leading to a heated argument that quickly escalated into a violent brawl between several passengers, taking different sides. 
"People were angry at the passenger. The whole coronavirus issue is a sensitive one," one passenger told N12. "We just came back from an amazing place, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and it took one second for us to forget all about it," he added. 
The passenger noted that not one staff member of Arkia intervened and tried to calm down the passengers.
The rebel passenger eventually agreed to put on a mask, but people remained agitated until the plane finally landed at Ben-Gurion Airport and the passengers were dispersed. Several of the passengers involved in the confrontation were questioned by security employees before being sent home. 
"This was a serious incident that can't be ignored," another passenger told N12. "Most of the passengers had masks on, but unfortunately our vacation was ruined because of this single incident. The 'ugly Israeli' has won again." 
"The ugly Israeli" is a phrase used to refer to the stereotype of the Israeli mentality of being short-sighted, prone to losing control and disrespecting of others in the process. The term has been used in the past to characterize violent incidents involving Israelis in public places.
The airline operating the flight, Arkia, issued a statement following the incident and noted that "the flight's service manager was called by several passengers, arrived at the scene and separated the fighting passengers. The entire incident lasted several minutes after which the flight continued as usual. Arkia will continue to serve its clients during these challenging times and will do so in the best way possible, while maintaining health guidelines."  
For many, the incident brought to mind the infamous "chocolate flight" that took place on February 2015 on an Israir flight returning from Bulgaria. The incident, which became widely known and spoken of among Israelis, involved Israeli passengers verbally abusing a flight attendant for not agreeing to sell them a tax-free chocolate bar.