Netanyahu plugs quarantine hole at Ben Gurion, all arrivals ordered to special facilities

Netanyahu orders everyone arriving from abroad to be taken to quarantine hotels after TV report showed hundreds of travelers simply walked out of the airport.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

An embarrassed Israeli government rushed Wednesday to plug security lapse at the country’s main international airport after media reports detailed how hundreds of passengers arriving from countries with serious coronavirus outbreaks walked out of the airport without being tested or ordered into quarantine.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today instructed the Ministry of Defense to quarantine all persons entering Israel from abroad in designated hotels (or other installations converted for that purpose) under supervision. The decision is to be implemented immediately,” a government press release said.

An expose by Israel’s Channel 12 News that aired Tuesday evening revealed that hundreds of passengers were allowed to go home without being screened for the virus.

A passenger who returned to Israel on a flight from New York where the virus is running rampant said she was surprised that the airline crew did not adhere to health procedures during the flight.

“On the flight the crew said that anyone could sit wherever they wanted in a tourist class. There were older people who coughed, not everyone was wearing masks. The crew itself was not wearing masks, which was weird. They wore gloves but not masks,” the unnamed passenger said.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday the plan to screen incoming passengers at the airport for the virulent disease and send those who tested positive to special quarantine hotels had not yet been approved.

“Originally, it was the decision of the National Security Council and the prime minister to test travelers upon landing,” he said. “But for a plethora of reasons, the decision changed to house quarantine. This is not a delusional decision, we’re examining what are our abilities with regard to testing.”

Former Health Ministry Director-General Gabi Barabash told Channel 12 that Israel was in danger of “simply becoming a branch of New York” due to this “idiotic management,” the Times of Israel reported.