Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
El Al new aircraft Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 23, 2017. El Al new aircraft Boeing 787 Dreamliner arrives at Ben Gurion International Airport, August 23, 2017.

Israel has pushed off its much-celebrated reopening to foreign tourists; a NOTAM (notice to airmen) issued by Israel on June 29 indicates the Jewish State is retaining its closed-door policy at least through July 26, the DansDeals travel site reported Wednesday.

NOTAM from Israel on June 29 2021. Photo Credit: Dan’s Deal Website

What it means is this: Foreign citizens still need a special permit to enter the country, despite an earlier Israeli government plan to open the country to individual foreign tourists on July 1.

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But much worse is that Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked is considering closing the airport completely for all incoming and outgoing flights if the Covid morbidity numbers rise too high. Shaked did not yet indicate what those red line numbers are.

Those who are granted that permit still need to also have documentation of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 72 hours of departure.

The exception to that policy is when a passenger is booked on a turnaround flight departing Israel within less than 72 hours of arrival.

There is, however, good news: vaccinated, organized groups are still welcome, if they are bringing documentation of special permission from the Israeli government. Individuals with first-degree relatives in the country can also enter, provided they have a special form granting permission to do so.

The government will also waive the PCR requirement for Israelis boarding outbound flights at Ben Gurion International Airport, as long as they have with them a document certifying their recovery from COVID-19 or full vaccination (two doses of the country’s Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine).

For that matter, the United States also requires documentation of having a negative PCR result – but will accept telehealth antigen test results as well.

The NOTAM carries a line stating that Israeli citizens and residents must also be carrying a health form promising they will not travel to countries currently on Israel’s “red list” – those that are considered at “maximum risk.”

Those nations include Argentina, Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa.

Israeli nationals will be hit with a NIS 5,000 fine if they violate the policy and try to fly to those destinations on their foreign passport (many Israelis are dual nationals).

At least 32 Israelis have been arrested this week for trying to do exactly that. Why someone would want to visit a country with “red status” is another issue.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.