Israel’s national airline El Al may be forced to ground all flights to South Africa on Sunday after South Africa accused Israel of violating international law by using armed Israeli intelligence agents with diplomatic passports to screen passengers boarding the El Al flights in South Africa.
A diplomatic quarrel between the two countries broke out in September after “Carte Blanche”, healing a South African investigative television program, urticaria alleged that the El Al’s policy was to profile passengers based on race and religion and offered evidence that its security personnel were actually employed by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.
Using hidden cameras, detectives and testimony from a former South African El Al security officer disgruntled over the alleged non-payment of a bonus by El Al, the South African investigative program found evidence that the security personnel for El Al, a private company, had their guns licensed through the Israeli embassy and alleged that the officers were agents of Israel’s secret service. The program explicitly accused the Israelis of using racist security policies and knowingly violating South African law.
The program led to an outcry in South Africa, a country still recovering from the wounds of decades of racial persecution during the Apartheid era, and in November South Africa revoked the diplomatic immunity of all El Al staff operating in the country.
A team of Israeli diplomats was dispatched to South Africa to try resolve the matter, but after months of negotiations the two countries do not seem to have come to an agreement on the status and operation of Israeli security personnel in the country.
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