Two families who arrived on a flight to Israel from New York on Wednesday forged their entry permits and will be deported, according to Hebrew media reports.
The 13 members of one of the families were all foreign nationals. The second family had an Israeli mother, a foreign father and six children, Channel 12 reported.
The police were summoned to deal with the forgeries, which are criminal offenses.
It wasn’t clear if there was a connection between the two families on the United Airlines flight. They will likely be sent back to New York on Wednesday night.
Entrance into Israel from abroad is severely restricted due to pandemic rules and flying into the country requires special permission by the government that is granted on a case-by-case basis ahead of a flight.
In a separate incident, Tuesday reports said Israeli authorities were investigating claims that passengers on an El Al flight from New York, which was later discovered to be carrying 11 travelers infected with the coronavirus, had provided fake test results before boarding the plane.
A woman on the plane claimed that she heard ultra-Orthodox passengers boasting that they had used fake coronavirus tests to get on the flight, Hebrew media reported. Other passengers said that during the flight ultra-Orthodox passengers did not wear masks at times and that the cabin crew did little to encourage them to cover up.
The Health Ministry on Wednesday asked the IDF Home Front Command and the Shin Bet security agency to check if the passengers really did fake the virus tests they had presented before getting on the plane, Channel 12 reported.
El Al, Israel’s national carrier, said in response to the report that all of its flights are handled in accordance with the instructions of various authorities.
“The claims made by passengers were passed on to the acting authorities and we are investigating the claims with the flight crew,” El Al said.
Israel’s land and air gateways have been largely closed since January 25, with Ben Gurion Airport shuttered for all but a few special flights by Israeli airlines to bring back citizens stranded abroad.
Health officials are concerned that more contagious strains of the coronavirus could arrive in the country from abroad, as is the case with the so-called British mutation which now accounts for almost all new COVID-19 infections in the country.
Ministers approved early Wednesday the reinstatement of a compulsory quarantine period in special government-run hotels for all those arriving from abroad, a day after the previous regulations on the matter expired.