Shin Bet hampers Irish woman's trip to Israel
A young Irish woman who was planning to travel to Israel on Wednesday to visit her boyfriend was told that she can't board her flight to Tel Aviv – unless she leaves her suitcase behind.
The woman, 26, and her Israeli boyfriend – both of whom asked to remain anonymous – met while traveling in South America, and kept up their relationship even after they had returned to their respective countries. This week, the two were finally meant to reunite.
Aware of the strict security regulations that await tourists travelling to Israel, the woman arrived at Dublin Airport hours before her Arkia flight. But she was then informed that she cannot board the plane.
Shortly after, the boyfriend, a former IDF officer, received a call from an Israeli security officer in Dublin, who asked about his relationship with the would-be passenger. Moments later, his girlfriend called, distraught.
"She told me that she was delayed and that she wasn't allowed on the plane," he said.
At one point she handed her phone over to one of the airport officers, who told the boyfriend that security was especially tight as result of the suicide bombing that killed seven people in Bulgaria earlier this month.
"The Israeli representatives claimed that it wasn't possible to screen her luggage in Dublin," he said.
Just 45 minutes before the flight, the young woman was finally given the green light to board the plane, but on one condition – she had to leave all her possessions behind, including her hand luggage and her phone. She decided against making the trip.
"I don't know anyone who would travel to a foreign land without anything," the boyfriend said.
Arkia confirmed the details of the incident but said that the airline must follow the Shin Bet instructions when it comes to security.
According to the Shin Bet, which is charged with monitoring the security of flights to Israel, the authorities in Dublin "could not facilitate the use of the screening machine, which is why it wasn't possible to inspect her luggage and its contents."
The Israeli security agency said that the inadequate access to the appropriate technology in Dublin was being handled.
The Israeli said, however, that the damage was already done.
"She was so excited to visit Israel," the boyfriend said. "While travelling abroad, she met many young Israelis who told her how different Israeli reality is from what she has heard on the news. And then suddenly her trip was cut off without prior warning, like she's a suspect only because she isn't Jewish."
He noted that his girlfriend was deeply offended by the Israeli regulations: "She doesn't even want to come to Israel anymore, she lost the will. She suggested we meet somewhere else."
The Israeli told Ynet that he understands the importance of the security checks, but said it was bizarre that a tourist's luggage couldn't be cleared at an airport.
"Security is important, but that shouldn't hurt tourists," he said.
The Shin Bet said that the Irishwoman was offered to receive her luggage the following day, after it could be sent to London for screening. But the young woman said she was never given that option. In fact, she noted, by the time they had told her she could board the flight sans luggage, the gates had already closed.