Israelis spend night in Saudi Arabia after plane makes emergency landing in Jeddah

Israelis spend night in Saudi Arabia after plane makes emergency landing in Jeddah
The 128 Israelis on board a flight from the Seychelles to Israel, forced to make an emergency landing, spent the night in a Saudi hotel.
2 min read
29 August, 2023
The Air Seychelles flight with 128 Israelis on board made an emergency landing in Jeddah [Getty]

A flight bound for Israel made an unscheduled stop in Saudi Arabia on Monday night following an emergency, with Israeli passengers spending the night in the kingdom despite the two countries having no diplomatic relations.

The flight bound for Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv from the Seychelles suffered an electrical issue, forcing it to land at Jeddah Airport in Saudi Arabia.

Around 128 Israelis were onboard Air Seychelles HM022 and were subsequently offered overnight accommodation in airport hotels before a replacement flight returned them home on Tuesday.

Passengers were stuck on the plane for three hours before the Israeli foreign ministry and Saudi authorities allowed the Israelis to disembark.

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Israel and Saudi Arabia have no formal diplomatic relations and Israelis are not officially allowed to enter the country.

However, Israeli bound flights have been able to pass through Saudi territory since 2022 following a controversial agreement.

Jeddah airport has become an alternative emergency landing site for Israel-bound airliners flying through Saudi airspace.

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Passengers said they were given a warm welcome by hotel staff.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he "greatly appreciate[s] the warm treatment of the Saudi authorities toward the Israeli passengers".

It comes as Israel seeks a normalisation agreement with Saudi Arabia in an initiative that is being pushed by the US.

Normalisation with Israel remains a controversial subject in Saudi Arabia.

There is widespread public sympathy for the Palestinians and the country's authorities continue to say they will not sign a normalisation agreement until Israel makes peace with the Palestinians. 

The replacement flight that was scheduled to take off from Jeddah on Tuesday morning has since landed at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, with all 128 Israeli passengers on board.