Israelis accuse Heathrow airport staff of 'antisemitism' over customs check

Israelis accuse Heathrow airport staff of 'antisemitism' over customs check
A pro-Israeli group has said that Israelis were subjected to extra checks at Heathrow Airport because one of them displayed a flag on their suitcase.
2 min read
12 June, 2024
UK Lawyers for Israel called on Heathrow airport authorities to investigate "the incident" [Getty]

A British pro-Israeli NGO has accused Heathrow Airport staff of antisemitism after alleging that passengers on a flight from Tel Aviv to London had undergone "extra customs checks" because one of them reportedly had an Israeli flag on their suitcase.

UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) posted on X that it was writing to authorities over an incident which saw customs officers at Heathrow request "all" passengers from an El Al flight to have their bags scanned "after seeing [an] Israeli flag on [a] suitcase", adding that "no other passengers was selected for this treatment at the time."

The group, which has previously been linked to efforts to suppress shows of solidarity with Palestinians, cited one of the passengers in its letter as claiming that customs officers requested that "everyone on the Israeli flights go to the room", where their bags were reportedly scanned.

Another traveller reportedly said: "We are Jewish, why are you doing this to us?", according to Israeli media which reported the allegations.

A media report highlighted that everyone on the flight, "including children" had their bags scanned by UK customs officers.

Live Story

The UKLFI, which has hosted events in the UK featuring controversial figures and groups, including extremists who promote the building of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, called on Heathrow Airport authorities to investigate "the incident".

The New Arab has contacted Heathrow Airport for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

UK border customs generally operate by screening all arriving passengers, with selections for additional checks based on risk assessments, random checks, and specific intelligence or red flags, such as suspicious behaviour, travel patterns, or declared items.