Police Nab Group That Helped Illegal Migrants at Ben Gurion Airport

YERUSHALAYIM -
Ben Gurion, Terminal 1
A departure screen at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Flash90)

Large numbers of police descended on Ben Gurion airport Monday and arrested six individuals on charges of allowing thousands of non-citizens into Israel over the past two years. Many of the foreigners were from Georgia, the former Soviet state. The suspects are charged with receiving bribes, breach of trust, corruption and other crimes.

The suspects are employees of companies that provide services to Ben Gurion, including cleaning crews, baggage handlers and others. All the suspects are themselves of Georgian origin, and operated a ring in which they all participated in smuggling Georgians who did not have visas into the country, with each working on one aspect of the scam in order to ensure that their clients got past security officials. For this, the smugglers received thousands of shekels in payments from their clients.

The scam began in 2017, with the suspects arranging for the clients to leave the airport using the entrances and exits the suspects themselves used. The suspects supplied phony credentials, enabling the clients to leave the airport and enter Israel.

According to police, most of the Georgians who entered Israel came here for work, but the possibility that some came for criminal or even terror purposes cannot be dismissed. Police are attempting to track down the illegals, and the suspects are being questioned on the identity of their clients.

In a statement, the Airports Authority said that “as part of the efforts to prevent crime at Ben Gurion airport, officials nabbed a group of migrants who attempted to evade border authorities. The incident was referred to police, who investigated further. The activities of police were coordinated with those of Airports Authority officials.”