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In bizarre tit-for-tat, Ukraine detains, denies entry to Israeli tourists

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Thirty-five Israeli tourists were detained at Ukraine’s Kiev Airport and barred from entering the country on Friday. The incident appears to be a some sort of a tit-for-tat on Ukraine officials’ part amid a sharp rise in the number of Ukrainians refused entry to Israel.

According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, the Israelis were released following the intervention of the embassy in Kiev.

Twenty-eight of the 35 detained tourists were allowed to enter Ukraine, while the rest purchased tickets for elsewhere.

A number of the Israelis said it was not clear why they were not being allowed into Ukraine and the Foreign Ministry said it had instructed the embassy to seek a clarification.

Video from the airport showed a group of Israelis arguing with security guards and saying they had been at the airport for over 24 hours.

Member of Knesset Yoel Razvozov said the detention was apparently “revenge for the conduct of Israeli immigration authorities at Ben Gurion Airport toward Ukrainian tourists requesting to enter Israel.”

Razvozov said he assisted in the efforts to secure the Israelis release and had reached out to a Ukrainian official on the matter.

According to news sources, 4,430 Ukrainians were denied entry to Israel last year, up from 1,400 in 2017, despite the two countries having a visa free travel agreement for their citizens.

Israel turned away 19,000 people in total during 2018, an all-time record.

Tourists from eastern European countries often are scrutinized more because it is more likely that they are coming to work illegally. Tourists are also turned away if they are likely to immigrate unlawfully.

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Chief Assignment editor is OlegSziakov