By Abdelraouf Arna'out
JERUSALEM (AA) – An Arab member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, expressed his gratitude on Wednesday for efforts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which resulted in the return of Palestinian students.
Ahmad Tibi, in a statement, said that a Turkish Airlines plane carrying 110 students, despite the suspension of flights, flew from Istanbul to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
The students returned to their homes in Palestinian areas of Israel and Jerusalem.
Tibi, who is the head of Arab Joint List in the Israeli parliament, said he sought help from an Israeli airline for the students' return. The request, however, was declined by Israel's security authorities.
When all his efforts went in vain, he approached Turkish president's office, which responded promptly, and arranged a flight for the students.
It was the last air journey before a temporary shutdown of Israeli airspace to curb the spread of coronavirus, and ahead of the Jewish Passover holiday.
"It is a kind human gesture that brought our students back in the middle of this global pandemic," Tibi said in his remarks for Erdogan.
The virus that was first detected in China has spread to at least 184 countries. So far, 1.44 million people have been infected worldwide, while more than 83,000 have died.
-Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara