Hundreds of dual UK-Israeli citizens confined to ‘quarantine hotels’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Hundreds of dual UK-Israeli citizens confined to ‘quarantine hotels’

Changing rules in London and at Ben Gurion cause chaos for passengers, with some reportedly 'hustled' off flights, had passports taken away and 'forced' onto coaches

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Ben Gurion Airport
Ben Gurion Airport

Hundreds of British-Israelis are facing another week in quarantine in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv hotels, after fears over the new strain of coronavirus provoked emergency measures as they flew back from the UK.

In Israel there was a picture of utter confusion, as passengers were told first one thing and then another on Sunday. One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “On the Easyjet flight from Luton on Sunday, people were told that the regulations were changing and were given the choice of whether to leave the flight”.

Those who remained were “hustled” off the plane at Ben-Gurion airport, their passports taken from them. The eyewitness said that passengers were “forced” onto coaches and driven to the internment hotels. There are thought to be almost 300 passengers in the Dan Panorama Jerusalem, including numerous children, and similar numbers in other hotels.

The hotel confinement is taking place under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and policed by the army. “People are under strict instruction not to leave their rooms and I have not,” one man told Jewish News, “but there are plenty of people strolling around the corridors”.

Within hours of the passengers’ arrival, social media groups operating in Israel leapt into action. Anton Delin, a Londoner who is the administrator of the 8,000-strong Britons Living in Israel Facebook group, coordinated donations of clothing and toiletries.

He said: “Everyone is just holed up in their rooms and are not allowed to congregate”. His group was working with the Keep Olim In Israel group, which is providing mental health programming for some of the frustrated one-time passengers. There has also been Zoom programming aimed at the children in the hotel, including a virtual tour of the Biblical Zoo. He paid tribute to support provided by the manager of Virgin Atlantic in Israel, Nick Bettles, who, he said, “has been fantastic”.

Among the beneficiaries of outside help is the Conservative Friends of Israel staffer in Israel, Ellen Steel, who, ironically, can actually see her Jerusalem apartment from the windows of her hotel “prison”. Expressing gratitude to Anton Delin and his group of helpers, she said: “The outpouring of love from total strangers is amazing”.

She said that all the minibar stock had been taken out of fridges in the rooms — and that no alcohol was permitted, even from outside deliveries from friends or families. Many people had resorted to takeaway food deliveries in the evening, she said, and many such meals had been paid for by Delin’s group. “We were told when we arrived that there would be three meals a day, but many people have simply not received adequate deliveries.” Delin said people had complained that food was “dumped” outside their hotel rooms and that some had “bugs” in the food.

Steel said that there were a large number of strictly Orthodox people in the hotel and no-one knew how they were managing. “We have all set up WhatsApp communication with each other but the Charedim don’t have that facility”.

Nevertheless, some people are being allowed to leave the hotel and return home, usually after applying for one of the various exemptions, such as mental or physical illness.

One British citizen, Sarah Godfrey, and her seven-year-old daughter, had good news on Tuesday were granted permission to wait out the rest of their quarantine at home in Tel Aviv. Her daughter, she said, had benefited from “on-line English lessons” during their brief stay. She had originally intended to be in the UK for 10 days to visit her mother who has Parkinson’s and related dementia, but had cut her trip back to three days when she realised that virus was spiralling out of control in Britain.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: