Carol’s mission to Israel thwarted

Carol Leach at the check in desk with the Whitby Gazette she had been planning to take to Bethlehem''submitted picture
Carol Leach at the check in desk with the Whitby Gazette she had been planning to take to Bethlehem''submitted picture
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A WHITBY mother embarking on an aid mission to Palestine was refused permission to board a plane and threatened with being arrested because she was deemed a security risk.

Carol Leach and 30 fellow volunteers from around the country, who were going to Israel as part of a project to help build a new school, were told they weren’t getting on the plane at Manchester airport almost a fortnight ago.

Their boarding passes were ripped up in front of them and at first they weren’t told why they could not fly.

Eventually they were told it was because of security reasons and their names, dates of birth and passports had triggered security alerts.

When the group said they wanted a refund, Jet 2 called airport police and told the group they were trespassing and would be arrested if they didn’t leave.

Ten of the 30 strong party were allowed to board but detained in a prison when they got to Tel Aviv and only returned to the UK a week ago.

Not one of the group, as well as the 1500 people from elsewhere across Europe taking part, made it to Palestine for the week long aid mission.

A fuming Carol, now back at home in White Horse Yard, said: “We were shocked and distressed that we couldn’t go because we were so desperate to support the Palestinians in a useful and important social project.

“What was worse, we couldn’t even leave the country which suggests the first check point into the country is at Manchester airport.

“We are British passport holders, with a ticket and a boarding pass - not criminal record holders - going on a humanitarian project.”

The former teacher who now writes A-Level text books had spent over £400 on flights and transport costs and instead of spending the week in Bethlehem ended up in Gran Canaria with a friend.

“We laid in the sun, feeling a mixture of disbelief and guilt that we could not go and that we had let down the Palestinian people, those who got through and the project.

“We won’t be able to go again, we are on a list to say we aren’t allowed.”

In a twist of irony when Carol returned to Manchester Airport the following day, to the same terminal and passed the same security guards she boarded her flight unhindered.