A second Israeli plane was delayed in Moscow on Thursday, after 46 Israeli passengers who were on their way from Israel to Moscow were detained Wednesday night, on the grounds that they did not have a valid visa.
The passengers who were detained on Thursday complained that Russian airport officials took fingerprints from some Israelis. 15 Israeli passengers have been reported detained Thursday. The Russian officials rummaged through the Israeli travelers’ belongings and took their passports. No explanation was given for the Russians’ conduct.
According to passengers’ testimonies, airport officials contacted Israeli passengers who had made aliyah from Russia at age five and asked: “Why did you all leave Russia? Aren’t you afraid that no one real has remained here?”
A statement issued by the Russian Embassy in Israel did not directly address the delays of Israelis at Russian airports, but it did refer to the treatment Russian tourists receive when they land at Ben Gurion Airport. According to the Russian embassy, thousands of them are deported back to Moscow and other Russian cities.
According to the Russian Embassy, as of December 1, figures for this year show that 5,771 Russian tourists were denied entry to Israel. As many as 568 Russian nationals were not allowed into Israel in October 2019, while in November 569 were barred from entering. All of them were tourists, arriving in Israel with round-trip tickets, booked and paid for hotels, as well as a sufficient amount of money required for their stay in Israel.
Since 2008, Israel and Russia have had visa-free rules for tourist trips. According to the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, 316,000 Russian tourists visited the country last year, when the flow of Russian tourists to Israel was the third-largest after the United States with 897,000 Russian tourists, and France with 346,000.
On Thursday afternoon, TASS reported, citing the Israeli Embassy in Moscow, that all Israeli nationals arriving on Wednesday at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport from Tel Aviv, have been allowed into Russia.
A Russian official said Wednesday that Russia is protesting the attitude Russian tourists visiting Israel face. “We expect our tourists to be treated appropriately, and we often get complaints about being treated rudely,” the official complained.