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Passengers aboard Tel Aviv-Athens flight detained for smoking on plane

An unspecified number of passengers aboard a flight from Tel Aviv to Athens were detained by Greek authorities on Wednesday for smoking on the flight following an unscheduled landing in Thessaloniki due to weather conditions.

The Israir flight departed from Tel Aviv on Wednesday en route to Athens but had to land in Thessaloniki, about 40 minutes north of the Greek capital, due to stormy weather, Ynet reported. After landing in Thessaloniki, a number of passengers decided to light up while waiting for the plane to depart. The crew alerted police, who escorted the passengers off the plane and detained them.

Greece has seen record rainfall that has led to flooding in some parts of the country in recent days.

Israir said in a statement cited by Ynet that it “condemns in any way… prohibited behavior in-flight’ and that “the safety and security of passengers are our top priority.”

It was the second incident of unruly behavior by Israeli passengers in the skies this week.

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On Monday, a Wizz Air flight from Tel Aviv to London was forced to land in Belgrade due to an unruly passenger. The flight departed for Luton Airport but landed in Serbia after the passenger tried to attack the flight crew and open an emergency exit. The reason for the disturbance was not given.

The other passengers spent the night in Belgrade and boarded a new flight to the UK on Tuesday.

A statement from Wizz Air to Channel 12 news confirmed the incident, ascribing it to an unruly passenger.

“The company is dealing with the onward flight of all customers to London. The safety and security of passengers and crew are the company’s top priority. The company regrets the inconvenience caused by this unexpected incident,” the statement said.

It wasn’t initially clear whether the passenger in question was Israeli.

In July, an Easyjet flight from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam made a forced landing in Venice after a reportedly drunk passenger attacked others onboard.

A passenger who was on board posted about the incident on Facebook and described how Italian police detained the man when the plane landed but he escaped as they were driving him away. Video showed the backdoor of a patrol car opening and the man leaping out. He then attacked officers who approached him.

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The disruptive passenger was eventually arrested and taken away by police. After a wait, the flight continued to Amsterdam.

Last week, an Air Seychelles jet with over 100 Israelis on board was forced to make an emergency landing in Saudi Arabia due to electrical problems. Passengers spent the night in Jeddah and then boarded what became the first-ever direct passenger flight from Saudi Arabia to Israel.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have formal ties, making the presence of the Israelis there a potential diplomatic issue. The countries have inched closer in recent years and are reportedly nearing a possible US-brokered diplomatic breakthrough, with the flight representing a rare instance of public cooperation between Jerusalem and Riyadh.