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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Israel Gives Security Lessons to Airport Security Execs

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Israel may be a pariah on the world stage when it comes to votes in the United Nations, but “secretly” it is apparently a great leader when it comes to keeping a country’s population safe. Security personnel have been streaming into Israel for years already to learn the ABC’s of keeping their countries safe, starting, of course, with the gateways to their nations — the airport.

Now, in light of the recent crash of EgyptAir flight MS804 and worldwide terror attacks, it’s no surprise to find airport executives from 40 nations are set to arrive in Israel next month.

The international airport representatives will arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport – one of the world’s safest – where they will learn first-hand about creative security procedures.

Since 1972, there has not been a single hijacking incident from Israel. But unless you’re very, very watchful, you would not notice the numerous security layers through which every individual passes at the airport. As such, security at BGI doesn’t disrupt the flow of traffic, nor does it do much to bother the traveler passing through the terminal.

The BGI Airport Security Operations Center, for example, is the heartbeat of the airport, monitoring every flight and checking the background of every passenger and flight crew member who is to pass through Israeli air space. Red-flagged individuals merit special attention and there are at least ten of those per day, according to a report by The Tower, quoting CNN.

But you’d never know it – in fact, one cannot even find it.

Earlier this year Israel also issued an additional security directive to airlines that fly to the Jewish State in order to address other potential threats such as the terrorists who recently were responsible for bringing down a Russian airliner last year in the Sinai Peninsula.

Those include insiders working at airports and resorts with access to passengers’ luggage.

Or, for that matter, airline personnel and cabin crew themselves, such as the depressed Germanwings co-pilot who became suicidal while flying a passenger plane. He took an entire aircraft filled with passengers along with him into death in March 2015.

Israeli security methods work partly because the system is flexible and responsive to dynamic situations, according to aviation security expert Shalom Dolev, who spoke with CNN.

By the time a passenger has reached an airline check-in counter, that individual has probably already passed up to five security checks, usually noticing only three: the initial entry point at the gate, the security check to allow the passenger in to the line for check-in, and the security officer who asks the “annoying questions that make no sense” before one reaches the check-in counter.

When those 40 airport executives leave Israel, they too will understand those “annoying questions” a little better — and perhaps begin to implement similar strategies in their own nations.

Hana Levi Julian

Apparent Explosion Tore Apart EgyptAir MS804

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

It appears there may have been an explosion on board EgyptAir Flight MS804 that blew apart the aircraft, twisted it into pieces and then sent it crashing into the Mediterranean Sea last week.

Search and recovery personnel have found body parts, unused life vests, bits and pieces of other equipment, and luggage. The images have been released by the Egyptian military. At least one memorial has been held at an Egyptian Coptic Christian church for a flight attendant whose body has yet to be recovered. Her mother called her a “bride for heaven,” media reported.

Flight data filed through the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was received from three independent channels, according to The Aviation Herald website.

ACARS is the system used to routinely download flight data to the airline operating the aircraft.

The flight data showed that at 02:26 local time on Thursday (00:26 GMT) smoke was detected in the toilet of the jet. Smoke was reported also in the avionics bay and in one of the lavatories.

One minute later, at 00:27 GMT, there was an avionics alert indicating smoke in the bay below the cockpit which contains aircraft electronics and computers.

The final ACARS message was received at 00:29 GMT, according to the TAH website, and four minutes later the plane lost contact with radar, at 02:33 local time.

France’s Bureau of Investigations and Analysis confirmed the ACARS data but told AFP it was “far too soon to interpret and understand the cause of the accident as long as we have not found the wreckage or the flight data recorders”.

A commercial pilot who flies an A330 similar to the A320 spoke with Britain’s The Telegraph on condition of anonymity, and said, however, “It looks like the right front and side window were blown out, most probably from inside out.”

Until the main body of the plane and the two “black boxes” that reveal flight data and cockpit transmissions are located the rest of the story will remain a mystery; they are still missing, despite news to the contrary.

No group has yet taken responsibility for the downing of the aircraft.

 

Hana Levi Julian

Sweden Grounds All Flights in Stockholm

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

The Stockholm Air Traffic Authority grounded all aircraft on Thursday due to a “network communications” problem.

“No planes are allowed to take off at the moment and we’re taking down the planes in the air,” said spokesman Per Froberg. “It’s a network communications problem.”  Froberg declined to provide further details.

The move came just as Egyptian and French officials were informing media that Egypt Air Flight MS804 had crashed earlier in the day in the Mediterranean Sea. No cause has yet been determined for the tragedy.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Tourists Die in Car Accident in Switzerland

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

An Israeli mother and daughter from Rishon LeZion have died in a car accident in southeastern Switzerland. The two Israelis died after crossing the Italian-Swiss border, while traveling from Milan.

Israel’s Foreign Minister said Wednesday the families were notified overnight.

The bodies of the mother, in her 50s and the daughter, in her 20s, have both been identified.

The Israeli embassy in Switzerland is making arrangements to transport the two citizens back home to Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

EasyJet Claims ‘Disruptive Passengers’ to Blame for Separation, Removal from Flight

Monday, May 9th, 2016

EasyJet Airlines categorically denied having removed and separated Jewish passengers from the rest of the travelers on board a flight from Barcelona to Paris on May 1, in a statement to media on Monday by Andy Cockburn, the airline’s director of public relations.

“Flight EZY3920 from Barcelona to Paris Charles de Gaulle on 1 May 2016 with 180 passengers on board returned to the gate in Barcelona and was met by police due to a group of passengers behaving in a disruptive manner,” said Cockburn, as quoted by JTA in several Jewish publications.

“All passengers were asked to disembark at the request of the police so they could speak to a small number of passengers in order to investigate the incident…. [EasyJet] does not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior on board,” he added.

JewishPress.com and Cockburn exchanged phone calls numerous times on Monday but each time JP returned the call, Cockburn was unavailable or could not be reached. Messages were left on both sides and emails were exchanged as well, but contact was elusive.

Even if some passengers were “disruptive” it still is not clear why an entire flight was forced to disembark, nor why only the Jewish passengers were required to remain secluded for six hours in a separate section of the terminal under armed police guard, nor why their captors refused to answer their questions.

Cockburn’s contention that the Jewish passengers were separated at the request of the police so they could be questioned under investigation does not make much sense, unless the police were only probing Jews. However, the spokesperson’s final comment that the airline “does not tolerate abusive or threatening behavior on board” seems to imply that Jews were behaving in an abusive or threatening behavior on board prior to takeoff.

Hana Levi Julian

Counter-Terrorism Bureau Issues Travel Advisory Against Visiting Djerba Island on Lag B’Omer

Monday, May 9th, 2016

The Counter-Terrorism Bureau in the prime minister’s office has issued a warning on Monday that Israelis should not attend the Lag B’Omer celebrations on the Island of Djerba, Tunisia, because of credible terror threats.

Djerba is a 198 square mile island off the coast of Tunisia, North Africa, in the Gulf of Gabes. A Jewish community has existed on the island continuously for more than 2,500 years. It is unique for its unusually high percentage of Kohanim (the Jewish Priestly caste), direct Patrilineal descendants of Aaron, the first Biblical high priest. Djerba island is known among Jews as the island of the Kohanim.

Lag B’Omer will be celebrated this year starting Wednesday evening, May 25, through Thursday evening, May 26. The Counter-Terrorism Bureau’s travel advisory says terrorist elements, most notably global Jihadists, “continue to operate in Tunisia and carry out attacks,” making the threat level against Jewish sites high. Israelis should “refrain from visiting” the Island.

On April 11, 2002, Al-Qaeda blew up a truck bomb near El Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, one of the oldest and most famous synagogues in the world, killing 21 people (14 German tourists, 5 Tunisians and 2 French nationals).

David Israel

Jewish Travelers Separated, Removed from British-based EasyJet Airline in Barcelona

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Update: EasyJet’s response to the article can be read here.

A group of Jewish families that included elderly people, pregnant women and children were taken off an EasyJet passenger plane in Barcelona waiting to depart for Paris, according to a report on the European Jewish Press.

One of the passengers, a Holocaust survivor, said the behavior of police who came to take the travelers off the flight was similar to that of the German Nazi SS police during World War II.

The families were removed after the plane had been sitting on the tarmac for more than two hours, waiting for departure. Many of the Jewish men were wearing kippahs, making them clearly identifiable.

They were returning home to Paris after having spent the Passover holiday in Spain, but were removed from the flight by armed Spanish police officers.

Despite the fact that the British-owned EasyJet flight was en route to Paris from Barcelona, the flight attendant chose to speak only Spanish when she told the Jewish group they were being removed from the flight.

When they asked her to speak in French, she declined, saying she could not speak a word in French or English.

One of the Jewish passengers, a 15-year-old boy, tried to use sign language, motioning with his hands to ask what was going on. In response the flight attendance called the Spanish Guardia Civil Police, a passenger told JPUpdates.

Another passenger, Franck Ben, described the nightmare in a French-language Facebook post, saying he and others felt like they were being treated like terrorists. Ben said the police tried to take away the teenager who had tried to communicate with hand gestures, but his mother intervened and would not allow him to be taken without her.

Placed under armed guard by the Spanish Guardia Civil Police — who were hardly civil — the frightened Jewish passengers were held for six long hours in a secluded area of the terminal without air conditions without being told why; nor were they told when they might be allowed to leave.

Blogger J.E. Dyer wrote about the incident on the Liberty Unyielding website, noting that the situation “blew up that probably didn’t have to, in part due to a language barrier.”

Dyer, whose language skills are clearly very good, also provided a translation for the French-language account of passenger Alain Sayada, who posted a full first-person narrative on Facebook and on an independent website of the events that took place.

What really happened on EasyJet flight EZY 3920 from Barcelona to Paris

My turn to tell what happened on EasyJet flight EZY 3920 from Barcelona to Paris, [which was scheduled to depart] 1 May 2016 at 13:05 [1:05 PM].

May wife and two children (aged 3 and 1) and I boarded with more than 150 other Jewish people after a superb trip to Spain organized for the Jewish Passover celebration. We were all very relaxed, in good humor and cheerful.

Everyone was seated, with seatbelts on, the plane was on the runway. It was near takeoff.

During the security briefing [to the passengers], one of the flight attendants named OMAR allowed himself to say “CHUTT” in a loud voice [i.e., “shush!” in an implicitly rude manner] to an old person who was speaking quietly to his 15-year-old grandson, blasting instructions at him in Spanish and not English. The old man, not understanding Spanish, stopped talking.

I was seated at the front of the plane in seat 3C and I saw OMAR complain to the cabin chief about the bad behavior of a passenger; the cabin chief responded in English that they [would] see about that in Paris.

About 30 minutes later, the attendants complained over the microphone that a person didn’t want to secure her children and [therefore] we couldn’t take off. One of my neighbors offered to go speak to this family, as perhaps they couldn’t speak English.

This man got up and I saw him return a minute later telling me he didn’t understand: everyone was secured, there was no problem.

And for another 20 minutes, we waited. An attendant named Christina went back and forth with the one named Omar, and spoke constantly over the microphone in a hurried and [unhealthy; probably “unprofessional”] manner. She spoke in Spanish or a really inferior English, proclaiming that she didn’t speak a word of French.

Not understanding, a teenage boy of 15 asked with hand gestures “What’s going on? What are you saying?” while this Christina person spoke in the microphone in SPANISH, knowing perfectly well that not one passenger understood the language.

Then, with the passengers as a whole completely confused, after an hour of waiting the cabin chief and the captain decided to return [to the Barcelona airport terminal] to remove the teenager [from the plane].

After 20 minutes, the plane stopped next to 4 Guardia Civil vehicles [apparently next to the terminal].

A half dozen men climbed into the plane wanting to [take the 15-year-old for questioning]. His mother intervened, saying he was not an adult, if they wanted him to take him, they’d have to take her too. They [the men] refused. They wanted the young man, by himself.

The police not speaking a word of English, the language barrier was a real problem.

During this time, the captain remained silent, leaning against the wall, letting the situation deteriorate.

The family [of the 15-year-old, apparently] was trying to understand and explain, but the attendants were vile and heartless and demonstrated a really overzealous [attitude].

5 minutes later, a lady succumbed to a panic attack and fainted amidst the tension, panic, and crying of numerous children.

So I decided to go speak to the captain and ask him to make a decision and take managerial responsibility for the situation; he looked at me and said in English that he didn’t really know what to do and he didn’t want to take off if everyone wasn’t seated. An inadequate response in view of the situation with 250 agitated passengers [the real number would not have exceeded 180 on this flight. – J.E.].

Behind me, a man, the father of 6 children, raised his voice although without unseemly gestures or vulgar words, I tried to calm him down but the [heat of confinement in the plane; i.e., the emotional agitation] made the atmosphere electric.

The police made the decision to disembark everyone and to take us to a place in the airport apart from everyone else.

We had all been sequestered and left stuck (prohibited from going out to smoke a cigarette or stretch or get some air) in a room without air conditioning. We were very hot. The babies were red and hot and many of the mothers had nowhere to sit. They [the babies, children] were hungry and crying, as the parents had not expected to have to plan for a 9-hour trip, but only for 3. A pregnant woman was crying on the phone. Children ran around and cried, not understanding… An older person felt ill… It was a nightmare! All this while in the room, we were surrounded by Guardia Civil officers, with guns and batons, as if we were terrorists!

Yet there were only families and old people on this flight, we have proof of that with photos. Next, we waited 5 hours, from 1400 to 1900 [2 PM to 7 PM] in this room, in horrible conditions. Parents went to ask the Spanish law enforcement officers for information, and if they knew when we might [be allowed to board again]? And if there was a reason why were all stuck under guard in this room for an indefinite period? They [the officers] didn’t answer. One of the Guardia Civil men violently shoved a father when he went to ask a question… To document this, a woman began to record his violent actions. One of the men [i.e., a Guardia Civil officer] literally leaped on her, shoving her violently and taking her phone from her.

Around 1730 [5:30 PM], 12 Guardia Civil officers, batons in hand, forcibly took away a 40-year-old father of 6 with a kippa on his head who merely raised his voice a bit in requesting that someone explain to us [what was going on], help us in this situation.

I fully understood at that moment that anyone who didn’t do exactly as they said [i.e., the Guardia Civil officers] would be immediately set upon.

An old man [among the passengers from the flight], a Holocaust survivor, said of these [Spanish law enforcement] men, “These guys, this is what the SS was like during the Shoah.” Needless to say, they made us all think of the SS and the Gestapo.

We remained uncertain of when we would be able to get home for six long hours. In this room where we were stifled by the heat and weren’t allowed to leave. I think at this stage, we could call this nightmare a hostage situation. Sequestration in atrocious conditions. And we were helpless. We contacted [Assembly] Deputy Meyer Habib from there. He notified the Quai d’Orsay [the French foreign ministry] and [Foreign Minister] Manuel Valls. We also tried to contact France 3 [media network] and BfmTv from the room, without much success.

Finally, after six long and interminable hours, they decided to let us reembark, they assembled the passengers. They wouldn’t let the 15-year-old young man or his 70- and 80-year-old grandparents on this flight, or the 40-year-old father [i.e., the one who raised his voice]. [Those particular passengers] had to take another flight, scheduled for 2 hours later. More interminable waiting.

As we were reboarding, they stopped a young woman of 22 and told her that if she didn’t erase the videos and photos she had taken, she wouldn’t be allowed to fly. Her mother begged them on her behalf. They [the authorities] kept our passports and ID cards so they could threaten us that way.

It was my turn to board, and at that point, to my great surprise, I was denied boarding, for the sole reason that the captain asked something of the police [apparently about the narrator].

I went to see the police officers at the departure point, who promised to see the captain and let him know I’d rather help them all out by translating between English and French [i.e., speak to the captain directly], but the captain didn’t want to hear about it.

The policeman said quietly in my ear: here, we are under the captain’s order, if he doesn’t want you, you don’t go.

My wife would have to travel alone, 5 months pregnant and with two children 1 and 3 years old.

She [melted down, basically – panicked, screamed, cried] but they came back again to look for me [apparently with batons out].

At 5 months along, any shock or major stress could be fatal for the baby.

Seeing that I remained calm and impassive, 5 officers went again to explain my situation and that of my wife to the captain who apparently didn’t have the guts to make a sensible decision all day, but fortunately, I was allowed on the flight at the last minute.

Entering into the plane, the flight crew had changed out, one attendant spoke excellent French, the two others fluent English and everything went fine with them. Needless to say, what we had just lived through was shocking and traumatic for each one of us. Let it not be forgotten that the 250 passengers [it was actually 180 max] were women, children, parents, old people, babies, etc. There could hardly be anyone more inoffensive! And we were treated like common animals.

Having arrived 2 May in Paris, my wife had a visit with the gynecologist and the verdict came down, a situation like this put the health of our future child in grave danger.

I am lodging today a complaint against EasyJet for discrimination suffered during flight EZY 3920.

It is obvious to anyone who reads the above account of Alain Sayada (translated by J.E.Dyer) that the incident demands investigation by the governments of Spain, France and Britain, all of whose nationals were involved in this Entebbe-like affair.

A spokesperson for the British-based EasyJet airline confirmed the veracity of the incident.

“We would like to apologize to customers for the inconvenience and the delay,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of passengers and crew is always EasyJet’s priority.” Police were called, the statement added, “due to a group of passengers behaving in a disruptive manner.” JPUpdates asked the airline about the allegations of the families regarding their separation due to their faith.

The response of the airline’s spokesperson is illuminating: “All of our staff are carefully selected and undergo a rigorous training program to maintain our high level of customer care. To confirm, we have a zero tolerance towards discrimination of any kind.”

EasyJet is a British low-cost airline based at London Luton Airport. It may be of interest to note that Luton’s Labour councilor Aaysegul Gurbuz, 20, was suspended last month over claims that she called Adolf Hitler ‘the greatest man in history,’ according to the April 9, 2016 edition of the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper.

Gurbuz is accused of posting a number of anti-Semitic tweets between 2011 and 2014, including one in 2013 that said ‘the Jews are so powerful in the U.S. It’s disgusting.’

Gurbuz resigned two days later.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-travelers-separated-and-removed-from-british-airline-in-barcelona/2016/05/08/

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