A number of dozen Palestinians flew to Cyprus on Monday from an airport in southern Israel as a part of a pilot programme ostensibly geared toward permitting Palestinians from the occupied West Financial institution to fly overseas.
Whereas Israel has tried to border the transfer as an effort to enhance Palestinian dwelling situations, critics have stated the measures don’t tackle the day by day humiliations of the decades-long occupation or pave the street for Palestinian statehood.
Forty-three residents of the West Financial institution cities of Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah and Nablus took off from Ramon Airport heading to Larnaca, Cyprus, stated Amir Assi, a strategic marketing consultant who coordinated the flights.
COGAT, the Israeli army physique answerable for governing civil affairs within the West Financial institution, confirmed that Palestinians boarded a world flight from Ramon Airport for the primary time and that “employees work continues to be below approach” to facilitate common flights for Palestinians.
The recently opened Ramon Airport is situated close to Israel’s resort metropolis of Eilat, roughly 300km (186 miles) south of Jerusalem. It’s smaller than Israel’s Ben Gurion Worldwide Airport outdoors Tel Aviv, has fewer flights and locations and is much less busy.
Palestinians from the West Financial institution and Gaza Strip face extreme journey restrictions imposed by Israel. They don’t have their very own airport and should apply for a hard-to-obtain airport allow to make use of Ben Gurion Airport. Such permits are solely accepted, if in any respect, shortly earlier than takeoff.
These within the West Financial institution wishing to fly overseas should journey to Jordan’s capital, Amman, by way of a crowded Israeli border crossing.
The crossing will not be open 24 hours a day, forcing many travellers to pay to remain in a lodge close by earlier than their flight. There are additionally journey prices and crossing charges that make the journey an added monetary burden.
Reporting from West Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Natasha Ghoneim stated Monday was the primary time that Palestinians had been capable of journey from Ramon Airport because it opened in 2019.
“They weren’t subjected to any further safety measures. They took a shuttle from the occupied West Financial institution then drove about 4 hours to Ramon Airport the place they boarded that flight,” she stated.
Ghoneim defined that a lot of controversial points concerning plans for Palestinians to journey from Ramon Airport remained.
“There have been plans that Turkish-owned Pegasus Airways will start flying out of Ramon Airport to hold out Palestinian passengers this month, however an airport official tells us that these plans have been cancelled and so they don’t know why,” she added.
The precise particulars of Monday’s flight from Ramon Airport had been troublesome to acquire beforehand, with inaccurate data offered to Al Jazeera and different media retailers upfront of the flight.
An airport official later instructed Al Jazeera that this was to guard the privateness of passengers.
Palestinian and Jordanian authorities are uncomfortable with the Israeli plan for varied causes.
The Palestinian Authority says it was by no means consulted concerning the plan and that it isn’t an answer for Palestinians who stay with no functioning airport.
The Jordanians would additionally stand to lose some huge cash if Palestinians have one other choice to journey, as many Palestinians presently drive to the Jordanian border to fly out of Amman’s Queen Alia Airport.
“If there’s a important drop within the variety of Palestinians crossing at that land border, Jordan stands to lose some huge cash. This explains why beforehand … Jordan expressed displeasure [over the plan],” she added.
Palestinians beforehand used two airports to journey internationally, Qalandiya Airport, which was closed by Israel in 2000, and Gaza Airport, which was destroyed by Israel in 2001.
The Gaza Strip has been below a blockade since Hamas seized energy in 2007, and all motion out and in of the territory is closely restricted by Israel and Egypt.
The airport authority had stated earlier this month that there can be two flights per week for Palestinians from Ramon to Antalya, Turkey, later in August and that flights to Istanbul would start in September.