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Since January 24, flights between Paris and Tel Aviv have been suspended as part of health measures aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19 variants. Several hundred Israeli nationals found themselves stranded in France. They have since mobilized on social networks to try to alert the authorities to their case.
“It has been two months since I have been stranded in Paris away from my family”, “We would like to go home”, “Once again my flight is canceled”, “It is lamentable to abandon the Israeli nationals”. On social networks, more and more people are expressing their exasperation. Since January 24 and the closure of Tel Aviv airport to stem the Covid-19 epidemic, several hundred Israelis have found themselves stranded in France.
Two WhatsApp groups have been created to collect their requests and allow them to obtain advice. “We are around 500 people,” explains Eric Haouzi, who manages one of these discussions. On January 24, this Franco-Israeli entrepreneur was in full flight to Paris when he learned that Tel Aviv airport was going to suspend its connections: “We had to stay in France only a few days because my daughter had to see a doctor. When we arrived, it was a big stress. Our return flight was canceled. We were held hostage. We could not turn around “.
“Couples go crazy”
Eric Haouzi quickly found himself at the head of the WhatsApp group. Every day, hundreds of messages are exchanged. “There are several kinds of situation. We have elderly people who have come to France for medical care or to renew their treatment,” he describes. “There are others who find themselves short of money because they had only come to France for a few days. They find themselves having to pay for the hotel or Air BnBs. We also have the case. families who are split in two. One of the parents in France and the other in Israel.
The entrepreneur tries to give them advice. The only European flight to Tel Aviv is from Frankfurt. “But it is expensive. People have not been reimbursed for their initial ticket and they have to buy a train ticket to Frankfurt in addition to the flight to Israel,” said Eric Haouzi. “There are even people who refuse to set foot in Germany for historical reasons. They make it a matter of principle.”
As detailed on the website of The Times of Israel, to be able to travel to the Hebrew state via Frankfurt, you must also fill out a form, attach proof of the need to travel, plan a PCR test carried out up to 72 hours before the trip, obtain a certificate of travel between European countries, a certificate to leave European territory as well as a declaration of entry into Israel to be completed within 24 hours before the trip. Upon arrival, quarantine is mandatory in a state-subsidized corona hotel, or at home if one has an exemption.
Despite the cost of These numerous administrative procedures, Éric Haouzi ended up opting for this solution: “We had the hope that the Paris-Tel Avi flights would resume, but we realized that this would not happen”.
A return for the elections?
The problem also arises in the other direction. Many Franco-Israelis complain of not being able to go to France when they are already vaccinated. “I thought that by having the green vaccine passport, I could go see my mother, whom I haven’t seen for over a year,” regrets Marie-Lyne Smadja, an academic living in Ramat Gan. “But here we are blocked because there is no theft.” As Easter approaches, families may not be able to come together. “My son had taken tickets for the last weekend of March, but they have just been canceled,” said Yael Ansellem, a Niçoise, whose son lives in Tel Aviv. “If they are canceling already, it is because they have directives,” she adds.
Eric Haouzi, for his part, is more optimistic. While flights are officially banned until March 6, he hopes the situation will resolve itself in the following days. “There is the electoral period at the end of March (Editor’s note: the early legislative elections on March 23). They will allow people to return to come and vote,” he believes.
Towards a resumption of links
Israeli Transport Minister Miri Regev echoed this, saying on Sunday (February 28) that she would come up with a plan so that all Israelis abroad can return to vote in next month’s elections.
On the side of the French authorities, Meyer Habib, deputy of the 8e constituency of French people living abroad, took up this issue. After writing and talking to Miri Regev, he announced Tuesday, March 2, a slight resumption of the Tel Aviv Paris link. “The Minister has just announced to me that from Thursday there will be an Air France flight at 11:35 am from Paris (CDG), arriving at 5:05 pm in Tel Aviv. The plane will leave Tel Aviv the next day, Friday at 8 am, direction Paris “, he wrote on his Facebook page.” It will be necessary again this week to be provided with an entry authorization issued by the Special Commission and a negative PCR test 72 hours before and on arrival. The advantage: it is no longer Frankfurt! “, He added, while specifying that there were” still many uncertainties and questions “.