Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport saw long lines and overcrowding Sunday as Israelis jetted off for the Hanukkah holiday.
Thousands of people gathered inside Terminal 3 in an area allocated for departing passengers, many of whom failed to wear masks or observe social distancing. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the boarding procedure lasted over two hours, resulting in verbal and even physical fights between passengers.
"We arrived at Ben Gurion Airport at 8am and it took almost two hours of waiting in line before we reached the security checkpoint," said passenger Amit, who was set to fly with her partner Guy for a vacation in Dubai.
"There are hundreds of people here on top of one another, not social distancing, some with masks on their chins, with no one reprimanding them," she said. "Security inspectors are a mess and there is chaos here, with people bypassing one another in line. People are pushing and cursing, it almost ended in a fight. I fear we will miss our flight even though we arrived here early."
Koby, who was also set to jet off to Dubai, described the situation in the airport as ludicrous. "People are standing on top of each other," he said. "They have to open more check in windows or space the long lines because it's really crowded and it's not appropriate given the rise in coronavirus infection," he added.
"Although all of us were tested before take-off, some did it two or three days ago so there may be someone sick among us who still does not know it and therefore adherence to the rules must be better."
The Airports Authority issued a statement, saying they are working "to ensure the flow of passengers" safely and accordance with health guidelines.
"According to the guidelines, it is allowed to board up to eight flights in the space of three hours at the terminal. We ask passengers to maintain social distancing and wear masks. The Airports Authority has appealed to the Israel Police to assign officers to help maintain public order, in addition to the dozens of airport workers involved in the process," said the statement.