For the first time in history, a group of Palestinians from the West Bank flew out from Israel’s Eilat-Ramon Airport (ETM) and arrived at Larnaca International Airport (LCA), Cyprus on August 22, 2022.
The flight, which carried 43 Palestinian residents of the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah and Nablus, was part of Israel’s airport pilot program, which allows Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to fly overseas.
Opened in 2019, ETM Airport is located near Israel’s resort city of Eilat, approximately 230 kilometers south of Jerusalem.
Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip do not have their own airport and must apply for an airport permit to use the airport in Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), the largest and busiest in Israel. These hard-to-obtain permits are only approved shortly before take-off, making overseas travel a complicated process for Palestinians from the West Bank/Gaza Strip area.
The Associated Press reports that Palestinians from the West Bank wishing to fly overseas must travel to Jordan’s capital of Amman through a crowded Israeli border crossing. The crossing isn’t open 24 hours a day, forcing travelers to stay in a hotel ahead of their flight.
There are plans for Turkish companies Pegasus Airlines and Atlas Global to operate twice-weekly flights for Palestinians to fly from ETM to Amman Queen Alia Airport (AMM) in Turkey, which will begin in late August 2022, and flights to Istanbul to begin September 2022.
Israel captured both the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Sinai peninsula, the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, also known as the Six-Day war.