Lavish private jet 'owned by Emirati royal' repatriated Israelis stranded in Morocco: report
A chartered VIP plane owned by an Emirati royal brought home Israeli nationals stranded in Morocco, Israel's Channel 12 has claimed, contradicting previous reports that the repatriation flight was arranged by American-Israeli philanthropist couple.
Israeli government officials contacted their counterparts in the UAE two week ago to arrange the secret flight for a large group of Israelis stranded in the North African country after a countrywide lockdown was imposed there on 15 March, the report alleged.
An alleged video of the repatriation has circulated on social media and shows the Israelis on-board a lavish jet complete with pristine white leather sofas, a private meeting room, and even a gold enamel sink.
Claims that the Israelis in Morocco were hosted by the Emirati royal onboard the luxurious private jet stand in stark contrast to the plight of 4,000 Palestinian students who remain stranded in nearby Arab countries.
With airports shut and borders closed due to the coronavirus crisis, many of these students students are left unable to pay for food or accommodation.
The allegation made by Israel’s Channel 12 cement the notion of the rapid normalising of relations between Israel and UAE. It also calls into question the Israeli media's coverage of the chartered flight and the official narrative.
According to this, 26 members of a group of 36 Israeli nationals stranded in Morocco for nearly two months due to travel restrictions were repatriated last week in a "complex rescue operation" involving "philanthropic aerial assistance".
With the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries blocking Israel's national carrier from landing in Morocco, Rabat took the rare step of approving an official Israeli evacuation in mid-April.
When it emerged that the repatriation flight would be arranged by the UAE - carrying its own nationals alongside the stranded Israelis - the Moroccan government blocked the move, angry that it had not been consulted that a third party was involved in the evacuation.
Following the alleged death of members of the original group of Israeli tourists and businesspeople from Covid-19, the Israeli-American owner of Israel Hayom Dr Miriam Adelson and her husband Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate, reportedly offered their private jet for the group.
Israel's national security agency oversaw the mission, which involved flying the group to Paris and then arranging Adelson’s private aircraft to take them back to Israel.
Yet the allegations made by Israel's Channel 12 throw the official narrative into disrepute, claiming that the jet was owned by an Emirati royal and - by extension - facillitated by the UAE.
Agencies contributed to this report.