Call-ups from the Israeli Defense Forces were able to make their way back to Israel this week thanks to the actions by an anonymous donor.
On Monday, a man purchased airline tickets for some IDF call-ups who wanted to return to Israel through JFK Airport in New York. The man, whose name wasn’t revealed but is reportedly Jewish, just stood near the ticket counter for Israel’s national airline, El Al, and purchased a flight ticket for any person who showed him their IDF call-up notice.
That information was shared by the Jerusalem Post’s editor-in-chief, Avi Meyer, on the social media platform X this week.
Meyer wrote that the man purchased 250 tickets in total from JFK to Israel. The editor-in-chief was citing information that was provided to him from a crew member on El Al.
Ofri Rimoni, a spokeswoman for the airline, said she’s witnessed an outpouring sense of support for all IDF reservists. After the airline heard about the anonymous donor, officials at the company reached out to JFK employees to find out more information about it.
The man, who is reportedly Haredi, just came into the airport and paid the fees for shipping the military gear that the reservists needed to go with them to Israel, Rimoni said.
Another man who had credit cards then showed up at the airport to purchase flight tickets for any reservist who had to return to Israel. Officials say it wasn’t obvious how many of those tickets he ended up purchasing, though they did say it appeared he was there with a U.S. organization.
Some social media users claimed that the man shelled out $500,000 in total for the tickets, though the airline ultimately denied those claims.
Legally speaking, the airline can’t accept donations on behalf of IDF reservists, Rimoni said, though she added:
“There’s a lot of people coming to JFK to our counters and asking to buy tickets for soldiers.”
She also said it’s “beautiful” to witness Americans coming to JFK to help the soldiers purchase the tickets they need to go back home.
Many airlines around the world have canceled their flights that were originally scheduled to land in Israel ever since Hamas brutally attacked Israel by surprise over the weekend. El Al, along with some other airlines that are based in Israel, have actually been adding flights so that reservists could return back home to help in the response.
El Al officials spoke with Reuters earlier this week, saying they weren’t offering IDF reservists free flights back home, but they were trying to keep the prices as affordable as possible for them.
On Monday, defense officials in Israel announced that they called up 300,000 reservists following the attacks by the terrorist group in Palestine that have so far left more 1,200 people dead and many more injured – many of whom were innocent infants, women and other civilians.
Israel immediately responded swiftly by carrying out military attacks on the West Bank and Gaza.