(JTA) — Twenty-six Israelis who were stuck in Morocco during the coronavirus pandemic were extracted from the country in a secret operation on a plane owned by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.
The group landed in Israel on Thursday morning, Israel Hayom reported. Miriam Adelson is the publisher of the free daily newspaper.
Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Morocco, which declared a state of emergency and shut its borders when the pandemic hit more than six weeks ago.
The passengers included Israeli teens who were on an overseas trip, Bedouin Arabs from eastern Jerusalem, and Israeli and Jewish businessmen with dual Israeli-Moroccan citizenship, according to the report.
Likud lawmaker Nir Barakat appealed to the Adelsons for help in hiring a plane, and the couple provided their private plane. The plane met the group in Paris, where they were able to fly on a recently reinstated commercial flight.
The private plane’s pilot told Israel Hayom it was the fourth attempt to extract the group. He said he was required to keep the mission low profile by not discussing any destinations or dates of flights he was piloting.
Some members of the group were critical of the way the Foreign Ministry handled their lockdown in Morocco.
The Jerusalem Post reported that 10 Israelis died in Morocco, but it is not clear if they were visiting the country or Israelis who permanently reside there.