Israel’s Transportation Ministry declared on Wednesday said it intends to install temporary X-ray scanning machines in the Kiryat Shmona airport. The move comes, according to the ministry, in an effort to calm public protests over its policy that bars Arabs from traveling on flights from the north to Tel Aviv, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.
The Shin Bet security services instructed the Transportation Ministry to bar Arabs from using the flights following a financial dispute that prevented the use of scanning machines in airports in the norther.
Therefore, according to an investigation conducted by Haaretz, there was s a Jewish passengers only policy on these flights.
The lack of scanning machines led the Shin Bet security service to bar the Arab residents of Israel from using the airport due to “potential security risks”.
Transportation Minister, Gideon Siterman, said temporary luggage scanning machines would be set up in the old terminal of the Kiryat Shmona airport until the airport could be fully equipped for proper security checks.
Meanwhile, The Adalah [Justice] Legal Center for Arab minority Rights in Israel, and The Center for the Struggle Against Racism demanded on Wednesday the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to void the Shin Bet order immediately, and to instruct Israel’s Transportation Minister to expose to the public all other Shin Bet instructions having to do with security checks at airports.
Both centers also petitioned the Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to cancel the Transportation Ministry’s decision, and said that they were considering asking the High Court of Justice to close airports that do not agree to allow Arab citizens board flights.
According to Haaretz, the flights from the north to the center of the country are operated by Tamir Flights, which won a Transportation Ministry tender in March 2006.
To operate the flights, the company bought a scanning machine to inspect passengers’ suitcases and carry-on items.
“The machine was to have been placed at the new terminal in Kiryat Shmona, but a difference of opinion over the use of the terminal has ensued between Tamir Flights, the Transportation and Industry and Trade Ministries, as well as the Kiryat Shmona municipality”, Haaretz reported.
Udi Tamir, one of Tamir Flight’s owners, confirmed the report on Tuesday and stated that that non-Jews are not allowed on these flights ”because there is no scanning machine at the airport in Kiryat Shmona”.
According to Tamir, these procedures are in accordance to “security forces’ instructions”.