Graduate students from India, some researching coronavirus, make it back to Israel on a special flight


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A group of doctoral and postdoctoral students from India, including some researching the coronavirus, made it back to Israel after originally being unable to find a flight.

The group of some 100 students landed Tuesday at Ben Gurion Airport after the Interior Ministry had approved their entry into the country at the request of the Council for Higher Education. The students went into a mandatory 14-day quarantine in the dormitories of their universities as is required by coronavirus mandates.

Non-citizens are not permitted to enter Israel now, except in certain cases, and there are no regular flights between Israel and India due to the coronavirus crisis. Hundreds of Indians who work in science, technology and home health sectors have been unable to return to Israel from visits to their home countries since travel restrictions were imposed at the start of the pandemic.

The students from India, both continuing and new graduates, received permission from Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to come to Israel but were unable to find a flight.

The director of Bar-Ilan University’s International School, Ofer Dahan, a former Jewish Agency official who organized numerous special flights to Israel, contacted the Israeli air carrier Israir and asked if it would operate a flight from Mumbai to Israel to allow the students to begin or continue their studies.

Some of the students are involved in researching the coronavirus, according to a statement from Bar-Ilan University.

Israir has conducted special flights, and brought Israeli citizens and immigrants to Israel from various places around the world since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

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