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Plane lands at Ben-Gurion Airport (archives)
Photo: Amnon Trabelsi
Airlines: Stop 'impurity of Kohanim' procedure
Following haredi pressure, Ben-Gurion Airport keeps arriving passengers in planes which land in Israel with a body in their cargo areas, until corpse is removed. Airlines demand a different solution, saying 'torture of passengers must end'
A number of airlines demanded last week that the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) stop the "impurity of Kohanim" procedure. According to this procedure, if a plane landing at Ben-Gurion Airport is carrying in its cargo area a body flown in from abroad, its passengers can only get off the plane after the body is removed from the aircraft, even if it takes a long time.

 

This procedure was adopted by Ben-Gurion Airport following pressure by haredi elements, in order to prevent the impurity of people waiting inside the terminal.

 

"The torture of passengers must end," a source in the aviation industry said Wednesday.

 

About two weeks ago, passengers of a Swiss International Airlines plane were forced to wait on the hot aircraft with no air conditions for about half an hour for the removal of a body located far from the cargo area's entrance.

 

After the plane landed, its doors did not open and the air conditioning systems did not work. Some 200 passengers and crew members were left on the closed plane, and their protest was unanswered. Only after the corpse was removed from the plane, 30 minutes after landing, a boarding bridge was connected to the aircraft and the angry passengers were allowed to get off.

 

"This country is doing everything possible to drive tourists away. All kinds of strange procedures are doing the job more than any security situation," a source at Ben-Gurion Airport had said at the time.

 

Following the incident, airlines are demanding a permanent solution for the problem. "It's unthinkable that passengers should be tortured because of an agreement between the IAA and rabbis," said a source in the aviation industry. "They want a quiet front on the part of religious elements. That's important, obviously – but the passengers are important too."

 

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