Thirteen students who had obtained permits to return to their institutions had a scheduled flight, which they boarded because they did not know about the policy change.
Empty El Al Israel Airlines check-in counters are seen at Ben Gurion International airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel February 27, 2020.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Seven foreign yeshiva students were stuck at Ben-Gurion Airport for six hours on Thursday night due to a policy change by the Interior Ministry regarding COVID-19 restrictions, before eventually being taken to a government quarantine center.
On May 21, the Interior Ministry decided to allow the entry of foreign yeshiva and seminary students into the country, after many left before Passover when educational institutions were shut down because of the pandemic.
But on Wednesday, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said that “with great pain” he was forced to halt the entry of foreign yeshiva students, and that any permits which have not been used until now would be canceled.
Thirteen such students who had obtained permits to return to their institutions had a scheduled flight at 11:35 p.m. from JFK airport in New York, and boarded the flight because they had not yet heard of the policy change.
An official at Har Etzion Yeshiva in Alon Shvut told The Jerusalem Post that the yeshiva only received notice of the change in policy at 11:55 a.m. Thursday morning long after the flight had taken off, and was therefore unable to alert the three students on the flight about the problem.
The flight landed at 5:15 p.m. Thursday afternoon, and seven yeshiva students were made to wait for six hours while a decision was made.
Six female seminary students were allowed to enter the country immediately, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said, and were required to self-quarantine at their institutions.
Ultimately it was decided that the seven yeshiva students would, however, need to go into quarantine in a government COVID-19 quarantine center at the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem, where they were sent for the duration of Shabbat.
Officials at Har Etzion Yeshiva are trying to ensure that the boys are able to spend the rest of their quarantine period in the yeshiva and not at the hotel.