Al-Aqsa: UAE airlines withdraw from Israel 'Independence Day' show amid mosque attacks

Al-Aqsa: UAE airlines withdraw from Israel 'Independence Day' show amid mosque attacks
Etihad and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi have pulled out of an air show celebrating Israel's 'Independence Day' just a day after their involvement was reported.
2 min read
20 April, 2022
Etihad Airlines backtracked on a decision to take part in Israeli 'Independence Day' celebrations [Getty]

Two UAE airlines have pulled out of an air show marking Israel's  'Independence Day' amid repeated Israeli attacks in occupied East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque.

UAE flag carrier Etihad and budget airline Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will no longer be joining in on 5 May, the Israeli Pilots' Association (ISRALPA) said in separate posts on Twitter on Tuesday.

The announcement comes just a day after the airlines' involvement, the first ever by UAE carriers, was reported.

ISRALPA said it "received a message today from Wizz Air Abu Dhabi that it will not be able to participate in the Independence Day flight in Israel".

The pilots' organisation said this came soon after it was reported the UAE had summoned Israel's ambassador over his country's violations at Al-Aqsa.

"We are sorry for this decision," ISRALPA added.

The UAE expressed its "strong protest and denunciation of the events taking place in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque" in its meeting with Israel's envoy, citing "attacks on civilians" and "incursions into holy places", UAE state news agency WAM reported.

Earlier on Tuesday, ISRALPA revealed that Etihad had said it was withdrawing from the Independence Day air event, though this came before reports that Israel's ambassador had been called in.

Israeli forces and settlers have repeatedly and violently raided Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, since Friday.

The attacks have wounded scores of Palestinians and seen Israeli security forces smash mosque windows, launch tear gas and sound bombs and hit worshippers with batons.

Arab countries, including Jordan, which is formally the custodian of Al-Aqsa, have condemned Israel's actions.

Israelis mark Independence Day shortly before Palestinians observe Nakba Day, which commemorates the 700,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed from their homes to make way for the Israeli state's 1948 creation.

Many consider the Nabka to be ongoing, citing continued Israeli settlement building and efforts to expel Palestinians from East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and other areas.

The UAE and other Arab countries, including Bahrain and Morocco, agreed to normalise ties with Israel in 2020 in deals brokered by the administration of then-US President Donald Trump.