Border Guards Arrest Busload of PA Eilat Tourists

YERUSHALAYIM -
Eilat. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Border Guards on Wednesday night arrested 50 Ramallah and Chevron residents who were in Israel illegally – on their way to an Eilat vacation. The group was arrested when the bus they were riding on attempted to pass a checkpoint at the northern entrance to the city. Border Guards boarded the bus and attempted to check the passengers’ papers, but quickly established that they were Palestinian Authority residents.

Members of the group were questioned, and they claimed that reservations had been made for them at an Eilat hotel, and that the tour organizer had arranged for visas. Neither claim turned out to be true, however, and according to what officials could piece together, a PA travel agency had sold the group a weekend vacation package to Eilat, with the organizers apparently planning to abandon them if they successfully got into the city.

After spending a night in detention, the members of the group on Thursday were returned to PA-controlled areas. The tour organizer and two others – one a PA resident and the other two Yerushalayim residents – were detained, and officials are deciding whether or not to charge them with fraud, as well as security violations.

Overnight Wednesday, security officials said they arrested five wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.