South Korea filed a complaint on Sunday over Israel’s treatment of the country’s nationals. Many South Korean are currently stranded following Israel’s decision to extend the entry ban to South Korea and Japan over coronavirus fears.
The move to extend the entry ban comes after nine South Korean nationals who recently were on a week-long trip in Israel tested positive for coronavirus after arriving back home. On Saturday evening an Air Korean flight carrying 188 passengers on board was turned away from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv shortly after landing, with only Israeli nationals being allowed to enter the country.
The South Korean Embassy appealed to the Foreign Ministry, urging them to find a solution to bring back the country’s nationals who can’t leave Israel as all flights to the Asian state have been halted.
The Koreans claim that if Israel has decided to take such a drastic step without further notice, it must provide a solution for the 1,600 tourists stranded as a result of the cancellations.
According to the complaint, if Israel cannot renew the flights to South Korea, it must provide the country's nationals with food and accommodation. In addition, the Koreans claim many Israeli hotels have begun evicting the country’s tourists due to the growing panic over the virus being spread.
A Foreign Ministry official said they are making a coordinated effort with EL AL in order to arrange a special flight that would bring the stranded tourists back home. The official said Israel will fully finance the flight.
In the meantime, almost 180 Israeli school children have been quarantined for 14 days after it emerged they had visited Masada National Park at the same time as the group of South Korean pilgrims.
At least 30 of the children were students from David Tuviyahu School in Be'er Sheva. On Sunday, only 50 children out of 520 arrived in school, said the principal.
The Association of Public Health Physicians said although they’re hoping the nine pilgrims contracted the deadly COVID-19 virus upon arrival to South Korea, the assessment is that they toured Israel while already infected.
“The assumption is that the virus is already circulating in Israel."
The Health Ministry estimates the nine, who part of a larger tourist group, had been in contact with hundreds of Israelis during their trip, which included tours all over the country.