Haredim to El Al: You lied to us

Haredim say El Al lied to them, promised flight would land in Israel before Shabbat began.

Tags: Haredim El Al
Arutz Sheva Staff ,

An El Al plane at Ben Gurion airport
An El Al plane at Ben Gurion airport
David Silverman/Getty Images

Haredim on an El Al flight to Israel on Friday allegedly faced off with the flight crew amid fears that the plane would land after Shabbat began.

Two El Al flights that took off from JFK airport in New York were scheduled to land on Shabbat after being delayed by snow. One flight was diverted to destinations in Europe instead of Ben Gurion Airport while the other received permission to land in Israel after Shabbat began.

Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef ruled that the flight could land after Shabbat's onset due to pikuach nefesh, the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration.

The permission was granted due to fear for the life of one of the passengers aboard the flight, who is suffering from a serious illness.

Haredim on the flight reportedly were enraged after the flight took off from JFK, as they were promised by El Al staff that they would arrive in Tel Aviv before Shabbat began. However, other conflicting reports said that the reports of violence were overblown.

According to Channel 2, a group of haredim began to riot on the flight to Israel after it became clear that they would not arrive before Shabbat began. The haredim allegedly pushed flight crew, cursed stewardesses, and threatened to forcibly break into the cockpit.

"In midst of my deep sleep I heard shouts of 'liars, cheaters,' and raised fists and the shouts at the flight attendants who burst into tears," recounted an eyewitness.

Another wrote in a viral Facebook post that "after six hours of flying, I hear shouts and see a flight attendant cry after they raised their hands on her, pushing her and threatening to break into the cockpit. All this in order not to desecrate Shabbat."

"I found myself standing guarding weeping stewardesses who were looking for a moment to stop and breathe air from the behavior displayed to them."

However, the allegations were denied by Israel Hayom haredi affairs correspondent Yehudah Shlezinger. Writing on Facebook, Shlezinger, who was on the flight, said that El Al lied to the passengers and that the flight had only taken off due to the flight crew having arrived late.

"They sat us on the plane and each time they told lies, 'The flight attendants are already here,' 'We're leaving,' 'We're first in line,' 'We're on the fast lane'" he wrote. "Three hours on the plane, lots of lies. Passengers who wanted to go down were refused, and the captain promised unequivocally: 'we will arrive an hour or half an hour before Shabbat.'

"Two hours before the landing, the captain announces that the religious to be removed in Athens, the secular will continue. Both sides were angry, both secular and haredi. They lied to us. Brazenly and without being confused."

"No passengers were beaten. None were threatened. They did not burst into the cockpit. They asked for answer," added Shlezinger, who promised to share videos of the incident.

El Al said in a statement that "extreme weather in New York is causing cancellations and delays in hundreds of flights, including El Al flights that left Israel last night. Due to the delays and delays, El Al does not fly on Saturday, the company is forced to land Flight 002 in Athens and Flight 008 in Rome."

"EL AL will take care of alternative flights to Israel for all passengers. In addition, passengers who prefer to stay in Athens or Rome on Shabbat will be treated by representatives of the company and do not worry about returning them to Israel at the end of Shabbat. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers."