Israelis detained in Kiev airport

Ukrainian authorities order Israeli travelers detained in response to Israel's detention of Ukrainians arriving in Ben Gurion Airport.

Tags: Travel Ukraine
Michal Levi ,

Borispol airport in Kiev, Ukraine
Borispol airport in Kiev, Ukraine

Forty Israelis were detained on Friday in a Ukrainian airport due to a government order.

The group, detained in Kiev on Friday morning, was released just prior to the beginning of Shabbat (the Sabbath) on Friday evening.

According to reports, the Ukrainian government has begun detaining Israelis as a matter of policy over the past few days, "in payment for the actions of Israeli immigration authorities in Ben Gurion International Airport and the detention of Ukrainian citizens."

Israeli Ambassador to Kiev Yoel Leon told Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush, who intervened to free the travelers, that 130 Ukrainians are currently being detained at Ben Gurion Airport and therefore the Ukrainians are acting likewise towards Israelis visiting Ukraine.

Despite the complex diplomatic situation, Leon accepted Porush's request and contacted Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, and Internal Affairs Minister Arsen Avakov, requesting that the Israelis be released. His efforts were successful, and the travelers were allowed to enter Kiev just prior to Shabbat.

Earlier on Friday, Leon, at Porush's request, had worked to ensure that kosher food, as well as the necessary religious items, would be brought to the detainees if they were detained over Shabbat.