First commercial flight from Bahrain to Israel takes off

First commercial flight from Bahrain to Israel lands in Tel Aviv
2 min read
30 September, 2021
Around one year after Bahrain agreed to normalise ties with Israel, the first commercial flight between Bahrain and the Jewish state landed in Tel Aviv.
The Gulf Air A320 aeroplane travelled from the Bahraini capital Manama to Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv [source: Getty]

The first commercial flight between Bahrain and Israel landed on Thursday at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, an AFP correspondent said. 

Crew members waved the flags of Bahrain and Israel from the cockpit windows of the passenger jet when Gulf Air flight GF972 landed in Tel Aviv.

The flight took place one year after Bahrain agreed to normalise ties with Israel. 

It touched down at Israel's main airport shortly after Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid began a landmark visit to Manama, where he will open the Israeli embassy.

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"We've landed in Bahrain. I'm proud to represent Israel in an official and historic first in the kingdom. Thanks for the warm reception," Lapid said on Twitter.

Lapid later met with his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif al-Zayani. 

"We talked about the cooperation between our countries and about taking the official peace between us and turning it into an active, economic, security, political and civic friendship," he tweeted.

However, anger simmers in some quarters over the accords, which broke with decades of Arab consensus that there would be no relations with Israel while the Palestinian question remains unresolved.

Protesters burned tyres on the outskirts of Manama early Thursday, sending clouds of black smoke into the air, and the hashtag #BahrainRejectsZionists in Arabic was circulating on social media.

Extra security was stationed on the route to the airport and no Israeli flags were visible on main roads. 

"The visit of the Israeli FM to Bahrain is an act firmly rejected, condemned and denounced by the people of Bahrain," Sheikh Hussein al-Daih, deputy secretary-general of the opposition Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, told AFP on Wednesday.