עינב שיף
Einav Schiff
Photo: Nimrod Saunders
A passenger undergoes a test for coronavirus at Ben-Gurion Airport

Israel's Dubai joy flights were state-sponsored mass infection

Opinion: The government chose to allow flights to the UAE resort city out of diplomatic considerations and ignored the frantic warnings of health experts who likened them to a ticking time bomb, and now the people are paying the price

Einav Schiff |
Published: 01.25.21, 23:30
In the dying December days of a dreadful 2020, many Israelis turned their eyes to Dubai and its promise of salvation for those desperately seeking reprieve from the cruel reality of coronavirus.
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  • The United Arab Emirates, with its low infection rate and status as a green state, undeniably offered the nearest thing to a pre-coronavirus experience.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    בדיקות קורונה בנתב"ג
    בדיקות קורונה בנתב"ג
    A passenger undergoes a test for coronavirus at Ben-Gurion Airport
    (Photo: AFP)
    While many Israelis in the hospitality industry struggled to stay alive amid the economic crisis and pandemic restrictions, the Instagram pages of their compatriots in Dubai were positively exploding with images of decadent luxury.
    Under the auspices of the Abraham Accords, Israel found itself a foreign sanctuary with little-to-no pandemic restrictions and very little enforcement.
    Some of us could already see what was coming from a mile away, and sadly the recent surge in infections leaves little doubt we were right.

    5 צפייה בגלריה
    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    L-R: Bahrain FM Abdullatif al-Zayani, PM Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Emirati FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House
    (Photo: AFP)
    Those returning from Dubai have been spreading the coronavirus as if it were some sort of cheap candy bought for family and friends at duty free.
    Professionals around the country warned the government, likening the flights to Dubai to a ticking time bomb.
    But the government chose to ignore professional opinions, the growing death toll and the scientific data, and instead allowed flights to the UAE to go ahead in order to avoid a potential diplomatic incident.
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    נוסעים לדובאי תקועים בנתב"ג
    נוסעים לדובאי תקועים בנתב"ג
    Israelis at Ben-Gurion Airport ahead of their flights to Dubai
    (Photo: Itay Blumenthal)
    The government did not merely botch its handling of the pandemic, it knowingly helped bring the virus and its newer, more infectious strains to the country through Ben-Gurion Airport.
    No less inconceivable is that the government did so while knowing full well the dangers of the virus and the effects of allowing foreign travel. It was an echo of the erroneous actions of the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic, when the former president chose to ignore the dangers of a virus that went on to ravage the U.S.
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    אילוסטרציה דובאי איחוד האמירויות
    אילוסטרציה דובאי איחוד האמירויות
    The Dubai skyline
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    Some in Israel’s government would have us focus our attention on other matters than these failures, such as the appalling conduct of a significant part of the ultra-Orthodox population or the rampant violence in the Arab community.
    For while we were all watching the lawlessness in Bnei Brak, the government sponsored mass infection of its citizens at its gates.
    The Israeli media is also to blame of course, with its ceaseless coverage of the splendors of Dubai and regular reports of the city's attractions and amazing shopping deals.
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    נוסעים שחזרו מדובאי תקועים בנתב"ג
    נוסעים שחזרו מדובאי תקועים בנתב"ג
    Israelis returning from Dubai are left waiting at Ben-Gurion Airport due to health regulations
    It should be easy for Israel to control who comes in and out, given that Ben-Gurion Airport is the only way to do so. And that fact alone should have helped keep the pandemic under control.
    But when it comes to Dubai, the government cannot do what it always does and put the blame on the judicial system. The Israel-Dubai virus pipeline is more akin to a crime than mere oversight.

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