The incident, reported on by news outlets around the world, led to El Al announcing a new policy that any passenger who refuses to take their assigned seats will immediately be removed from the flight.
The passenger, Katriel Shemtov, writes that the passengers had been informed before boarding that the flight, originally scheduled to depart at 6:00PM, would be delayed until 6:45PM. The later time was also written on the screen in the terminal. Shemtov writes the issue was not resolved until “at least 7:10PM, in my opinion.”However, a new report from Israeli media personality Sivan Rahav-Meir paints an entirely different side to the story. On Monday, Rahav-Meir published testimony she received via email from a passenger on the flight, claiming that the flight had already been delayed for reasons entirely unrelated to the Chareidim and their demands.
“In my estimation,” he continued, “the whole incident with the Chareidim took maybe five minutes, no more. I do not justify their behavior and one may not delay a flight even in one minute. As an ultra-Orthodox person, I have never encountered behavior like theirs. But I am shocked by the media coverage of this story. It sounds so hallucinatory. How is it that no one verified? In addition, this caused international damage to Israel. What is going on here? I hesitated a few days before contacting you, but it was important for me to let them know the truth. I have many other witnesses to the story who were on the plane if necessary”.
Sivan Rahav-Meir reports that she forwarded these claims to El Al, but received the following surprising response: “The details reported on the subject were inaccurate to say the least. In reality, the delay was not related to the event that was publicized. There was a delay in the move of the plane to the takeoff runway of an hour without any connection to the incident.”
“The two passengers who refused to take their seats took place after the plane had already departed from the gate, and it lasted only a few minutes,” thereby corroborating the testimony of Mr. Shemtov.