Sex-party Boys Cleared of Rape in Cyprus Get Heroes’ Welcome in Israel

'Israeli pride!' shouted friends and family at Ben-Gurion Airport, then they opened a bottle of Champagne

One of the Israeli boys involved in the Cyprus rape case arrives at Ben Gurion airport, in Tel Aviv, on Sunday, July 28, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

The arrivals hall at Ben-Gurion Airport is an Israel temple – the place where over-excited family members come to embrace the relatives they haven’t seen since they took off 10 days before for a trip to the Black Forest.

Early Monday evening, it was also the meeting place where family and friends welcomed the seven young men released from detention in Cyprus after being absolved of suspicion of gang rape of a 19-year-old British tourist. When they passed through the green customs lane and walked through the sliding doors, they could believe that everything was behind them.

One of the Israeli boys involved in the Cyprus rape case arrives at Ben Gurion airport, in Tel Aviv, on Sunday, July 28, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

They returned to Israel on three different flights. The first two young men who arrived on the earlier flight were smuggled with their parents’ help to the elevators that usually lead from the arrivals hall to the parking lot, but this time led them from an unwanted uproar to longed-for anonymity. They refused to speak to the media and waited impatiently for the door to open, and even more – for it to close behind them and let them carry on with their lives. Meanwhile their parents blamed the media’s handling of the affair. “Only because of the media, the Jew haters, were they left there,” said one of the fathers.

The young woman, who was arrested for misleading Cypriot authorities, was said to have told investigators that she filed the rape complaint because she was “angry and insulted” that a number of the boys, ages 16 to 19, had recorded a video of her having sex with some of them, which spread on social media last week.

Quiet, or the desire for it, was not the prevailing motif during the coming and going of the four young men who arrived on the last flight, including the main suspect in the affair. “Heveinu shalom aleichem! Israeli pride!” shouted an older man with a little girl sitting on his shoulders, as if these were medal winners on their return from an international competition.

Three of the Israeli boys involved in the Cyprus rape case after their release from detention in Cyprus, on Sunday, July 28, 2019.

The older man was only one of the large number of friends and family members, including one detainee released days before, who embraced and kissed the young men. One well-wisher opened a bottle of Champagne and sprayed it in all directions. Another fired a confetti cannon onto everyone. The parents of one of the freed detainees pulled him aside and hugged him, not letting him go until they seemed satisfied that he was really here.

What started out as an emotional reception turned into a raucous celebration when the young men left the arrivals hall. They, their family members and friends gathered in a circle for an impromptu rally that overflowed onto the nearby highway and stopped traffic for a short time.

Passersby pulled out their smartphones and photographed these boys who had become the talk of the town, even if there was a gag order on their names and photos.

A few people asked them to pose for selfies, the modern-day victory photo. Anyone who didn’t know what all the fuss was about got an explanation from one of the adults in the group who sang: “The British girl is a whore, the British girl is a whore, the British girl gives blowjobs to the whole neighborhood” to a melody familiar at soccer games and given new lyrics for this event.

The joy was mingled with practical advice from the parents. “You learned not to fool around,” said one of the mothers, and when everyone started to walk towards the parking lot, she reminded them that they also had to pay before leaving.