Flouting Travel Recommendations, Netanyahu Spotted Sitting Atop Luggage Trolley in San Francisco Airport

Netanyahu, who had previously closed down most international travel in response to the pandemic, has been harshly critical of Bennett's handling of the health crisis

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, 2021.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, 2021.Credit: Emil Salman
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

Ignoring repeated appeals from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and government health experts for Israelis to refrain from traveling abroad, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu flew to the United States this weekend for a two-week vacation.

The former prime minister was photographed with his wife Sara and son Yair at San Francisco International Airport on Sunday, apparently waiting to check in for a connecting flight. His trip comes as both Jerusalem and Washington are increasing travel restrictions between the two countries, with officials on both sides advising their citizens to refrain from flying due to rising morbidity.

LISTEN: Israeli settlers call the shots as Palestinian fatalities mount

In the pictures, Netanyahu, who was wearing a mask and sitting on a luggage cart, appeared to be scowling at the photographer.

Last Wednesday, a Knesset panel approved a measure requiring all American travelers arriving in Israel to enter quarantine for at least seven days. The implementation of the new restriction came two days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Israel to its highest risk level, advising American citizens to avoid traveling there.

Netanyahu, who had previously closed down most international travel in response to the pandemic, has been harshly critical of his successor’s handling of the health crisis.

During a Knesset debate on what the opposition had termed the “Ben-Gurion Airport fiasco” this July, Netanyahu accused Bennett of “spoiling” his government’s “great success in battling the coronavirus,” saying that he was “not doing anything” to curb the rise in infections.

“Instead of blocking the Indian variant - you took a selfie with it at Ben-Gurion Airport,” Netanyahu said.

The lifting of most restrictions on international travel for Israelis this summer saw increasing numbers of people flying abroad as well as widespread complaints of long lines for mandatory COVID tests for returnees.

While both Bennett and Health Ministry director-general, prof. Nachman Ash, have urged Israelis to avoid nonessential trips abroad due to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, June saw 301,000 passengers flying out of Tel Aviv – a record for the pandemic months. July, meanwhile, saw 536,336 passengers arrive in Israel, some 70 percent of whom were either vaccinated or had recovered from COVID-19.

"I am asking: If you don't need to fly overseas, do not fly," Bennett said during a press conference this June.

“Associates” of the former prime minister told Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot that the United States is not a “red country” to which travel is forbidden and that Netanyahu and his family would enter quarantine upon returning to Israel.

New restrictions at Ben-Gurion Airport will take effect starting Monday. Arrivals from only 10 countries will be exempt from quarantine.

Passengers from Austria, Australia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Taiwan, Moldova, New Zealand, China, Singapore and the Czech Republic will not be required to enter isolation. However, only Austria, Hungary, Moldova and the Czech Republic allow Israelis to enter at the moment.

People who return from these ten countries will be required to isolate for 24 hours, or until they receive a negative COVID test result – the earlier of the two.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed

AIPAC

AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op