An 18-year-old girl was left traumatized by a recent flight on El Al Israel Airlines, after she was ordered off the plane, forced to undress and searched – all without explanation.
The victim tells YWN she arrived at Toronto Pearson airport this past Sunday afternoon and stood on line at the check-in counters. As is usual protocol with El Al, security personnel approached and asked standard security questions. Where she is coming from, who packed her luggage etc. They asked if she was flying alone or with someone else, and she replied that she was flying alone. She was asked the purpose of her trip and replied that she studies in seminary in Israel. They then asked who paid for her ticket, and she replied that she had paid for it.
The victim says she was then asked where she had money from to be able to pay for a ticket, a question she felt was irrelevant and intrusive. However, she answered that she saved up allowance money and had bought the ticket. Security then let her proceed with the check-in process. She checked in her bags and headed towards the gate.
At the appropriate time, the victim boarded and took her seat on board the plane, waiting for take off. The pilot then announced that passengers should ‘please be patient’ as there was a slight “security delay”.
What happened next was totally unexpected. A large, intimidating Israeli security guard approached her and ordered her to get up and follow him off of the plane. The victim says she was “petrified”, as any naive 18-year-old Beis Yaakov girl flying alone would be. She asked “why, what happened?” He refused to answer but said that if she didn’t do as told then she would be arrested. With no other choice, (and the entire plane watching) she gathered her belongings and followed the security guard off of the plane.
The guard escorted her to a security interrogation room, where there were two other men waiting. The victim says they began shouting at her and asked for her phone. She was petrified and then began to cry. The second she took her phone out of her coat pocket, one of the men reached out and grabbed it from her hand. He then shouted at her to remove the coat, which she did and handed it to him.
Then, she was ordered to go behind a curtain and take off her clothes because they needed to “check them.” At that point she says she began shouting for help. The men ran out of the room and called in female security guards to continue with the “security check.” The victim says she asked them to return her phone so she could call her parents. They shouted at her and said that if she disturbs the ‘security process’ one more time then they would arrest her and put her in handcuffs.
A female security guard then ordered her to take every piece of clothing. When she asked why it was necessary, the woman allegedly replied “ the truth, I have no idea, but you must comply.” From behind the curtain, she slowly handed them her clothes, one piece at a time. The men re-entered the room while she was behind the curtain. They examined her clothes, then threw them back and shouted at her to get dressed. They then shouted at her to run to plane, because they were already delayed an hour and it was HER FAULT.
The victim says they refused to return her phone, jewelry or food she had brought to eat on the plane, and that it was confiscated for “security reasons”. A security guard then grabbed her by the arm and lead her back to the plane without any of her valuables.
The victim says she was mortified when the crew announced she had arrived back on the plane, causing the other passengers to start clapping. She did not even have a chance to call her parents on a borrowed phone and let them know what occurred, as the crew announced that everyone must turn off their phones as they prepare for takeoff. She was forced to spend an agonizing 10 hours on the plane reviewing what had just occurred.
Upon arrival in Israel on Monday, she proceeded straight to the security desk to ask for an explanation. They said that they had not heard about the incident, and said they would look into it.
The victims says her parents contacted El Al ‘s Toronto office and were told that they could not track down any of her belongings. Her mother then told El Al that if they do not return the belongings promptly, then they would sue them. The next morning El Al called back, saying they had located the belongings and would send it to her on the next flight.
The victim tells YWN she has not yet heard any further explanation from the airline, other than they “are looking into this”. YWN will update our readers should El Al respond to the alleged incident.
This alleged incident comes at a tenuous time for Israel’s national airline, as it is still dealing with the fallout of last months’s fiasco in which a plane full of passengers from New York were stranded in Athens for Shabbos – an issue falsely blamed on nonexistent “violence” from Chareidi passengers.
(Nat Golden – YWN)