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2 female Arab passengers sue Israel airline after being humiliated in airport

June 8, 2023 at 5:00 pm

A plane of the Israeli airline Arkia, carrying forty Palestinians aboard the first flight from Israel’s Ramon airport, lands at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus on August 22, 2022 [IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP via Getty Images]

A lawyer from the Racism Crisis Centre submitted a compensation request to Israel’s Arkia airline on behalf of two Palestinian women who say they suffered humiliation and racism upon their return to Tel Aviv from Istanbul.

Israeli lawyer from the Racism Crisis Centre said the women arrived at Istanbul Airport on 13 April to return to Tel Aviv but were stopped by Israeli security and questioned about their personal lives. Later, after the Israeli security discovered that the two women, who wear hijab, lived in Gaza for a period of time, their bags were marked with a sticker. They were asked to go to their gate, bypassing the queue of waiting passengers, and to hand over all their belongings to security, including their handbags. The women objected, explaining that they were carrying medication because one had undergone cancer treatment.

When they arrived at the gate they were told the flight was delayed by more than four hours, they were later subjected to another security check. They were asked to take off their hijabs and even their hair ties and when they refused to remove their clothing, the Israeli security employee conducted a humiliating search of their bodies, which led to one of the women collapsing and crying.

During the process, they were told that their plane was delayed once again to continue the search, which prompted passengers to insult them when the plane took off. During the flight, they discovered that security had removed the contents of their carry on bags including the medication one of them needed.

They are now suing the airline for over $45,000 as a result of the humiliation and racism they suffered.

The lawyer stressed that this was not an isolated incident, noting that Palestinian citizens of Israel regularly report profiling policies at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport and at other airports when they are returning to the country on Israeli airlines. This, she added, is a result of racial profiling, which is illegal.

At time of going to press, Arkia did not response to MEMO’s request for comment.

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