Israel Radio is reporting that two Israeli Arabs were kicked off a flight from Athens to Israel after Israeli Jewish passengers forced the crew to remove the pair.
According to reports, the Jewish Israelis felt that the Israeli Arabs posed a security risks. The situation unfolded Monday evening at the Athens airport. Before the flight was set to take off, the Jewish passengers brought their worries to attention of the flight crew. They then kept the plane from leaving by standing in the aisles.
It doesn’t appear that the Arab passengers were forcibly removed. Rather, the Aegean Airlines flight crew asked them to leave in exchange for compensation and hotel accommodations. The two Arab passengers eventually agreed to walk off the plane.
The airline reports that a small passenger group initiated the incident. They persistently and very vocally demanded that the Israeli Arab passengers be checked on the basis of security concerns.
With the plane grounded, the captain contacted the airport police, who reviewed the passengers’ identities and documents. The police uncovered nothing suspicious about the pair.
However, enough time had passed since the small group had initially demanded the removal of the Israeli Arab citizens that more passengers became concerned. The flight crew attempted to assure the Jewish passengers that nothing was amiss, but by then a larger number of them had begun to protest the Arabs’ presence on the plane.
The incident led to a delay of over 90 minutes before the Israeli Arabs eventually decided to leave the plane. Still, after they left, the Jewish passengers demanded that the flight crew check the plane for security measures. It wasn’t until the captain threatened the remaining passengers with forcible removal sans compensation that the passengers sat down and the flight left en route to Tel Aviv.
The airline apologized for the “unfortunate” incident and thanked the two Arab Israeli passengers for their understanding and cooperation in leaving and allowing the flight to take off.