Russia Denies Entry to More Israelis as Visa Spat Escalates

Five Israeli citizens were detained for six hours upon their arrival at Moscow’s airport before being sent back to Israel on Wednesday in the second such incident in less than a week, YNet news reported.

Russian authorities held the Israelis in a locked room in the airport for hours without their passports, water or access to the bathroom, one of the detained passengers told the publication. Only after the group complained did they receive a small bottle of water for all to share.

“It’s an embarrassment for the State of Israel that its citizens are treated this way,” the woman said. “It’s bad enough that they didn’t let us into Russia, but why lock us in a room for six hours without water, without a toilet and without contact with the outside world?”

She said law enforcement photographed them, took DNA swabs and fingerprints after they arrived on an Aeroflot flight.

Last week, ten Israelis aged 25 to 45 were deported from a Moscow airport back to Israel after being detained for eight hours and having their DNA and fingerprints collected.

The Russian Embassy in Israel responded to the detention of the Israelis, implying Israel mistreats its nationals traveling into the Middle East country.

“5,771 Russian tourists were not allowed to enter Israel in 2019. Every day, about 20 Russian tourists arriving in Israel on an organized trip are detained and sent back to Russia,” read a statement published by the embassy.

One of the concessions, signed between Israel and Russia following the release of Israeli-American Naama Issachar, was a bilateral consular immigration treaty, stating Israel will minimize the number of deportations of Russian nationals.

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