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South American immigrants arrive in Israel after 40 days in limbo

10 8 13
04.03.2021

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A group of 137 immigrants from Brazil and Argentina landed in Israel on Monday after 40 days of limbo brought about by Israel’s closure of its main international airport last month and Europe’s restriction on Latin Americans making connections through its airports.

Part of the group was slated to fly out of Sao Paulo in January, but those plans were shelved after Israel shut down all but emergency and cargo flights to Ben Gurion Airport on Jan. 24. The airport partially reopened two weeks later, but entries were limited and further complicated by the inability to make connecting flights through Europe. Currently there are no scheduled direct flights between Brazil and Israel.

“There were moments when I thought we’d give up. It was a continuous exercise of patience, persistence and wish,” said Geni Gelman, who had been staying with her 89-year-old mother at a hotel at the Rio airport since Jan. 23.

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