Athens-Tel Aviv Flight Delayed as Protesters Block Check-in Counters

An Israel-bound El Al flight from Athens was delayed for about two hours yesterday as protesters obstructed the airline's check-in counters to protest the Israeli blockade of Gaza, airport officials said.

Demonstrators from the PAME labor union blocking an El Al counter in Athens yesterday.

The protesters - members of a Greek labor union, according to an Israeli representative of Greece's Aegean Airlines - said they blocked five check-in counters to express their opposition to Israel's "oppressive policies," including the blockade.

El Al said in a statement that at no point were any of Flight 542's 99 passengers in any danger, but would comment no further on the incident.

"They don't like us Israelis," said Yitzhak Tzadikario, the Aegean Airlines representative. "Anywhere in the world you'll find a vociferous minority that interrupts some Israeli speaker or other. This time it was activists from the Communist labor union who chose the El Al counter to protest."

Tzadikario said he did not understand why the Greek police did not intervene earlier to remove the protesters. He said his airline might take steps to prevent a similar incident at its check-in counters.