Orthodox passengers on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv are suing the national airline for $2.5 million and demanding a public apology after being were blamed for its delay.
El Al flight LY002 was forced to land in Athens before Shabbat last week.
The flight was delayed after a snowstorm in New York City on Thursday night.
Media reports told an outrageous tale following the incident on Shabbat.
A KAN 11 News reported that Chareidim were shouting, cursing and pushing El Al cabin crew in a chaotic situation.
Orthodox passengers were furious as they could not relate their experiences as it was Shabbat.
Israeli news correspondent Yehuda Schlesinger was on the flight and described reports as ‘fake news’.
“There was no uprising, I saw when chareidim insisted on knowing what was going on, and this too was not violent,” he reportedly said.
“The only ‘uprising’ was when the chareidim gathered together and sang songs.
“The one time there was concern was two hours before the flight taking off and we were told we would arrive two hours before Shabbat.”
180 orthodox passengers are claiming $13,500 and a refund of the cost of the flight.
Lawyers Amit Hadad and Tamar Pollak allege El Al booked 53 hotel rooms in Athens for the stranded passengers, resulting in some people sleeping on the floor.
El Al released a statement admitting passengers were not “physically violent” on the flight hours after legal documents were filed.
At the time, El Al issued a statement confirming extreme weather in New York had caused cancellations and delays to hundreds of flights, including El Al flights that left Israel.
Due to delays, and El Al not flying on a Saturday, the company was forced to land Flight 002 in Athens and Flight 008 in Rome.
“EL AL will take care of alternative flights to Israel for all passengers,” the statement noted. “In addition, passengers who prefer to stay in Athens or Rome on Shabbat will be treated by representatives of the company and do not worry about returning them to Israel at the end of Shabbat. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers.”
El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin, in a letter to staff members, said the decision-making process on the flight “took place in a dynamic and developing reality that was not entirely controlled by the company”.
Usishkin added that EL Al prided itself on being the “melting pot of Israeli society” and regretted the incident had led to “polarising discourse and exchanging of accusations.”