While El Al is trying to minimize damages with the Haredi public after flying on Shabbat in an attempt to return passengers who were stranded abroad because of the workers strike in Israel earlier this month, an El Al aircraft was seen flying over Tel Aviv this Saturday.
El Al announced that the flight was a test flight with no passengers and was conducted after the aircraft underwent maintenance work at Ben-Gurion Airport. The rabbinical committee for Shabbat has rejected that explanation and is continuing to call for a boycott of the national airline saying that "Shabbat is Shabbat".
About three week ago, after the conclusion of the workers strike in Israel, several El Al aircraft took off during Shabbat in order to catch up with the delays caused by the strike and to return passengers who were stranded in different airports around the world.
But the Haredim were not interested in the excuses. In response to the Shabbat flights, prominent rabbis announced that they would recommend their followers to boycott the airline.
El Al aircraft spotted over Tel Aviv Saturday (Photo: Omri)
Although waves of that storm have not ceased, an El Al aircraft was spotted flying over Tel Aviv on Saturday at around 1:30 p.m. and was photographed by a visitor to the Ramat-Gan National Park as the plane was coming in for landing at Ben Gurion Airport.
Ynet has obtained the photo of the illicit flight. Omri, who took the photograph, said that he heard the sound of an aircraft and looked up to find an El Al aircraft. "The war between El Al and the Haredim was just recently in the headlines, so I decided photograph the incident," he said.
Sources within El Al explained that the aircraft had undergone maintenance work during that day, and was due to leave on a long-haul flight that evening after Shabbat had ended.
Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, chairman of The Committee for the Sanctity of Shabbat was surprised to learn of the flight. "I am shocked and appalled by the flight," he said. "If an El Al plane flew during Shabbat it is a serious issue. Only today I met with the management of El Al and they emphasized that they are keeping Shabbat, and it does not make a difference if the plane was full or empty. The Torah does not discriminate based on who was on the plane. When you look up in the air you don't know who is in there. This is a violation of Shabbat. It is clear that if we had an agreement with them, these incidents will not occur."
El Al announced in response that "the flight was not a passenger flight but a test flight which was conducted after a maintenance evaluation of the aircraft".