Minister of Foreign Affairs Yisrael Katz's announcement to the press yesterday seemed to indicate that the state had paid for the return of Israelis stranded in Peru. "In my action with El Al Airlines, the appropriate resources were raised, and it was agreed that the company would send a first plane on a special flight to Peru to bring young Israelis residing there before the closure went into effect… the young people were brought to Israel free of charge in this mission," Katz said, adding that this constituted "implementation of the principle of communal responsibility advocated by Israel in an emergency. I thank El Al for responding to my request, and for this national mission."
Behind this moving expression lies a fundraising campaign among businesspeople who prefer to remain anonymous, without receiving any credit. Every such special flight, which takes 17 hours to reach a destination to which El Al has never before flown, with a double crew, costs $350,000. El Al paid for $50,000, and its managers raised the rest through a direct appeal for a $50,000 donation from each of the businesspeople, who were among its customers. At this stage, enough money has been raised for two and a half flights, with the aim of increasing it to four flights.
The 17-hour flights will be the longest-ever undertaken by El Al - the equivalent of the Tel Aviv - Melbourne flights, which had been planned to start in a few weeks.
Who deserves the credit? The Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinated the authorization and registration of the people involved. Asked by "Globes" why it had not reported that the financing for the "national mission" came from private parties, not the state, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs answered, "We have no comment beyond our announcement on the subject."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 18, 2020
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