Photo: Ahiya Raved
Haifa airport
Photo: Ahiya Raved

Arab passenger denied boarding to be compensated

Court rules in favor of Israeli Arab barred from boarding flight to Eilat because x-ray machine broke down. Judge: There must be a balance between security needs and the need to prevent suffering of innocent passengers

The Haifa Magistrates Court recently awarded tens of thousands of shekels to an Israeli Arab plaintiff who sued the Israeli Airports Authority (IAA) after the latter refused to allow him to board a plane in Haifa because the airport's x-ray machine was not in working order.


His attorney claimed in the lawsuit that the IAA trampled his client's basic rights as a law-abiding citizen.


The incident took place on Israel's 57th Independence Day in May 2005. Ali Mugrabi, a resident of Akko, made plans to spend the holiday with friends in Eilat. A barber by profession, he worked for most of the holiday and booked a flight for himself the following afternoon from Haifa's airport.


"As someone who has flown numerous times to Eilat," said his attorney. "Mr. Mugrabi was well aware of the fact that he had to arrive earlier than most passengers due to the extensive security check he must undergo due to his Arab background."


Mugrabi arrived at the airport almost 90 minutes before takeoff and, as expected, underwent a lengthy security check. He was taken into a side room and subjected to a strip search while his suitcase was taken for examination.


While the rest of the passengers began boarding the plane, Mugrabi was told that there was a security-related problem and that he could not board. The flight took off without him and the airport failed to provide him with a satisfactory explanation for preventing him from boarding.


Mugrabi eventually flew the following day from Tel Aviv. He later learned that the reason he had been barred from the Haifa flight was because the airport's x-ray machine had broken down.


'Balance security needs'

Judge Yoav Friedman ruled that while the threat still exists and terrorists are becoming more proficient – there must be a balancing of security necessities against the need to minimize harming the sensibilities of others and preventing innocent passengers from suffering.


Friedman ruled that the airport was guilty of negligence and should have had a spare x-ray machine on hand as the existing one broke down often. Israir Airlines, that sold Mugrabi his ticket and airport security overseers Arkia Airlines were not to blame, the court said.


The judge ruled that the airport would pay the plaintiff a sum of $2,500 for the anguish he suffered as well as well as his legal fees and $50 for his expenses the day of the incident.


פרסום ראשון: 09.05.07, 01:06
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