JERUSALEM (JTA) — About 1,000 Israelis stranded in Peru after the South American nation announced that it would close its borders will return home on a special El Al flight.
The first plane will take off for Peru on Wednesday evening, the Kan public broadcaster reported. The flights will be free for the travelers, according to Kan.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz announced Tuesday that his ministry would “coordinate details with the company and with the Peruvian authorities.”
Peruvians are confined to their homes, leaving only for groceries or medicines, and the city streets are patrolled by the military and police to ensure compliance. Travelers had only 24 hours from the announcement to the closure to try to leave the country, and planes to get to the capital, Lima, and then out of the country filled up quickly.
Katz praised El Al, which has laid off about 90 percent of its workforce as a consequence of the coronavirus on travel.
“El Al’s long-standing tradition as a national airline stepping up during a national emergency continues even now,” he tweeted.
Most of the Israelis are stranded in Lima and in the southern city of Cusco, according to Haaretz. They are mostly young people on their traditional post-army trek.