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Turkey refuses to refuel El Al flight in medical emergency

The flight was forced to fly to Rhodes after sitting on the tarmac for three hours in Turkey where its requests for refueling were ignored.

El Al airplane at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Aug. 18, 2023. Photo by Carin M. Smilk.
El Al airplane at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Aug. 18, 2023. Photo by Carin M. Smilk.

An El Al flight which diverted to Turkey on Sunday for a medical emergency was refused requests to refuel at the airport in apparent violation of international aviation laws.

The incident comes at a time when flights between Israel and Turkey have been suspended since the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, and as the Turkish leader has emerged as one of Israel’s most vociferous critics in the world.

El Al flight 5102 from Warsaw to Tel Aviv was diverted to Antalya around 3:00 p.m. local time after a passenger fell ill and required urgent medical attention. 

After landing, the passenger was evacuated off the plane to a local hospital. For the next three hours, Turkish airport officials refused airline requests to refuel the flight as it sat on the tarmac in order to continue on to Tel Aviv. 

Later, the flight flew to Rhodes Sunday evening for refueling and will then continue on to Israel.

“Following a medical incident that occurred on flight LY5102 from Warsaw to Tel Aviv, the flight landed in Antalya, Turkey and the passenger was removed from the plane for urgent medical treatment. The flight crew prepared to continue its flight to TLV, but local workers refused to refuel the El Al plane, even though it had landed due to a medical emergency, El Al said in a written statement sent to JNS.

“The plane took off to Rhodes, where it will refuel before continuing to Israel. We would like to emphasize that El Al puts the health and safety of its passengers as a top priority.”

“If this doesn’t convince travelers not to fly with Turkish Airlines when they resume flights to Tel Aviv, I don’t what else will,”  Mark Feldman, Jerusalem director of Diesenhaus Tours, told JNS. “I have nothing against the Turkish people but Turkish Airlines is owned by an antisemitic despot who should be shunned at all costs.”

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