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December 18, 2019 3:24 pm

Dozens of Israelis Detained at Moscow Airport Released

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Domodedovo International Airport. Photo: Public domain.

Dozens of Israelis were detained at a Moscow airport on Wednesday, with no reason given, and then released hours later with no explanation.

The Israeli news site Walla reported that 40 Israelis who arrived on an El Al flight were taken into custody. Their passports were confiscated and they were fingerprinted, photographed and subjected to a lengthy interrogations.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry stated that Russia recently changed its policies toward Israeli travelers and it was working to clarify the situation and ensure that Israeli tourists and businessmen could continue to enter the country.

While still detained, one of the Israeli travelers, identified as “Daniel,” told Walla, “I’m still waiting, and every so often a policeman comes and takes a traveler to the interrogation room and continues to ask him questions.”

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“There’s one young woman who exploded at the policemen and told them that what they’re doing is antisemitic,” he added. “Besides that, they aren’t letting us move from the place we’re confined. Five hours without water or food.”

“There’s an Israeli couple here,” Daniel said, “The man is already more than an hour in the interrogation room and the woman has no idea where he is and what’s happening to him right now.”

The Russian Embassy in Israel appeared to imply that the detentions were an act of revenge.

“As of December 1, 5,771 Russian tourists were not permitted into Israel,” the embassy said in a statement. “In October 2019 alone, 568 Russian tourists could not enter Israel, in November 2019 — 569. Every day approximately 20 tourists who arrive in Israel with money and organized tours are detained and sent back to Russia.”

“The Russian side does not respond to the decisions of the relevant Israeli authorities,” the statement added.

The Israeli news site Mako reported that an Israeli source said there was no connection between the detentions and the case of Naama Issachar, a young Israeli-American woman imprisoned in Russia on drug charges.

Intensive efforts have been underway for months to obtain Issachar’s release and have caused diplomatic tensions between Israel and Russia.

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