The removal of two Arab Israelis from an Athens to Tel Aviv flight at the weekend triggered protests Wednesday by Palestinians.

Jewish Israeli passengers on board the Aegean Airlines flight Sunday night said they felt threatened by the two Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and demanded they get off the plane.

They stood in the aisle and refused to sit down, preventing the pilot from taking off. The two Arab Israelis eventually agreed to take a later flight.

Aegean Airlines said it regretted the incident and thanked the two for their cooperation.

But Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said, "We are outraged by how two Palestinians were treated with discrimination and prejudice at the hands of the Aegean cabin crew."

"The crew succumbed to pressure from Israeli passengers who stood up and did not allow the flight to depart," he said.

He condemned the incident as "unjust, "disgraceful" and "racist," demanding a response by the Greek government.

He also called the behaviour of the Israeli passengers "appalling" and "reminiscent of the worst years of the South African apartheid."

A Jewish Israeli passenger, who agreed to give only his first name, Nissim, denied that he and other passengers had racist motives.

The fear and suspicion felt by a "large group" of passengers was not related to the Arab Israelis' race or origin, he insisted.

One of the two "wore a jacket zipped up completely" and "seemed weird and strange. His body language was threatening and he really had a very penetrating and scary look in his eyes."

"A very large part of passengers reached a very high level of anxiety," he told Israel Army Radio, claiming some were even "crying." 

The incident comes amid a three-month wave of violence in Israel and the Palestinian areas. 

Latest news

Merkel calls for fewer EU regulations as nationalist sentiments grow

As voters in the Netherlands, France and Germany show increasing support for nationalist, euro-sceptic political movements ahead of this year's elections, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for limits on EU regulations.

French prosecutors transfer Fillon case to investigative judge

The French judiciary has opened a formal investigation in connection with presidential candidate Francois Fillon to examine whether the employment of his wife as a parliamentary employee was a sham, the country's financial prosecutors' office said Friday.

White House bars major news outlets from press briefing

Major news organizations, which were Friday blocked by the White House from attending an informal press briefing, condemned the move just hours after President Donald Trump described parts of the media as "the enemy of the people."

Report: German intelligence spied on BBC, other foreign journalists

Germany's intelligence agency monitored foreign journalists at the BBC, the New York Times and other news organizations from 1999 onwards across several countries, according to a Friday report from Der Spiegel magazine.

Classroom for Islamic religious education opened in Split

A classroom for Islamic religious education, whose equipment was financially assisted by city and county authorities, was opened in the coastal city of Split on Friday.

Ministry say no licences for export of military goods to Saudi Arabia issued in 2016

The Economy, Enterprise and Crafts Ministry on Friday issued a statement regarding media reports about export licences for military goods, stressing that in 2016 it did not issue any licences for the export of military goods to Saudi Arabia.

Croatia for preserving Bosnia's stability

Croatia on Friday supported the stability of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), calling on its authorities to adopt decisions in institutions, after a request by BiH Presidency Bosniak member Bakir Izetbegovic to review a ruling which acquitted Serbia of genocide.

Mexico is not a migrant "waiting room" for US, interior minister says

Mexico will not accept undocumented immigrants from other countries whom the United States plans to deport, Mexico's interior minister said Friday.

Right-wing populist Wilders declines first Dutch election debate

Candidates from nine Dutch parties answered questions from journalists Friday at the first national radio debate of the election campaign, but the leading candidate

Bosnian Croat reps insist on channel airing programmes in Croatian

Being one of the constituent peoples, the Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina are entitled to a broadcaster that will air programmes in their native language, HNS BiH official Ivan Vukoja said at a news conference in Mostar on Friday.

Same-sex couples in Slovenia can marry

A Slovenian law allowing same-sex couples to marry went into force on Friday and the first civil registrar ceremony, between two women, is to take place in Maribor on Saturday, the town's Vecer daily said.

Moody's changes Agrokor's outlook to negative

The Moody's rating agency on Friday changed its outlook for the Agrokor food retailer from stable to negative, affirming its rating of B3.