Ben Gurion airport closed but ‘loophole’ leaves Jordanian border crossing wide open

Despite the closure of air passenger traffic to Israel, the border crossing with Jordan – a source of possible virus mutations – remains open.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

In order to block the spread of mutations of the coronavirus, Israel shut down passenger air traffic in and out of the country but forgot to close the land border crossing with Jordan, Kan News reported Tuesday.

“There is a legal gap in the corona law, which only applies to Ben Gurion Airport,” Tzachi Braverman, Deputy Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, told Kan News, saying he issued orders to close the land crossings.

The border crossing between Israel and Jordan in the Arava desert just north of the city of Eilat remains open for Israelis to enter. This means that Israelis who are currently abroad and could not make it back before the airport was shut down can fly to Jordan and from there go to Israel by ground transportation.

A senior Health Ministry source said they are working to close the border crossings with Jordan Tuesday.

“A dangerous loophole has been created by default and this loophole must be closed here and now,” the source said of the land crossings.

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“We are hermetically closing the skies apart from very rare exceptions in order to prevent the entry of mutated viruses and in order to ensure that we will advance quickly with our vaccines operation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday, when the decision was taken to shut the airport as of Monday at midnight. “We are thereby ensuring that the damage from the mutation, if it enters, and from additional variants, if they enter, will be much smaller.”

The government decision allows for emergency or humanitarian exceptions to fly into Israel as well as private planes with up to nine seats, but that would allow only those who can afford the exceptionally high cost of the private flights on planes with an estimated cost of about $10,000 per hour of flight time, the report said.

Health officials said Monday that they expect to recommend the air closure be extended by at least another week.