Attorney Islam Abu Ziad, 35, a resident of east Jerusalem, was planning to fly to a conference in Holland a few weeks ago, but he did not make the flight.
Upon arriving at Ben Gurion Airport, Abu Ziad was taken to a private room and asked to strip down. A coworker who was traveling with him was taken to a separate room, where she was also asked to take her clothes off.
- A pleasant flight - for Arabs too
- Foreign Ministry Arab cadet humiliated at airport
- State: Airport security checks do not discriminate against Arabs
Abu Ziad, who was never suspected of a security offence, told Ynet that after he and his coworker were taken out of the respective rooms, they were sent to passport control. But "when they looked at our travel documents… they decided to change our seats on the flight. As if we were suspects."
"This is indicative of discrimination and racism in El Al," he added.
The two coworkers nonetheless made it to the gate and waited to board the plane. "Suddenly we heard our names being called. They told us we can't travel because we don’t have passports," Abu Ziad related.
'Discrimination and racism in El Al' (Photo: Benny Doutsh)
"I told them that residents of east Jerusalem travel with documents approved by the Interior Ministry and that I've traveled many times this way. But they said that El Al talked to (authorities in) the Netherlands, where they were told we could not enter with our travel documents," he claimed.
"We couldn’t get through to them and ended up going home. That's racism. It's either because of my name, Islam, or the fact that I'm an Arab. It'll be very hard to convince me that the way we were treated was the result of anything else."
Following the incident, the east Jerusalem lawyer contacted the Dutch Embassy in Israel and was told there was no reason not to allow him entrance to the country. He was also given a formal document attesting to the fact that he was in the possession of a visa to the country.
"The next day I found a different flight to the Netherlands with a different airline and there was no problem," Al Ziad added.
El Al commented that it was not the airline's responsibility to conduct security checks. "The matter is the responsibility of the Israel Airports Authority. El Al operates in accordance with security guidelines.
The Israel Airports Authority said security checks are aimed at guaranteeing the safety of the passengers. The Airports Authority is responsible for the safety of some 1.5 million passengers a year.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop