The report came after footage showing a private plane appeared online, alleging that it was an Emirati plane sent especially for Israelis stuck in Morocco.
Al Jazeera based its report mainly on footage that shows Israelis wearing face masks and discovering the interior of a fancy aircraft. The video’s description alleges that Emirati authorities sent the jet to help the stranded Israelis.
The footage, shared by an unverified Twitter account on May 16, was accompanied by the caption: “The plane that the UAE sent to Morocco to bring back the Jewish Zionists stranded in Morocco to occupied Palestine.”
— ? بن مانع (@binmana_) May 16, 2020
“What is happening in Abu Dhabi?” the tweet continued, clearly aiming to criticize the Emirati leadership and their ties with Israel.
The footage indeed documented a repatriation flight for Israeli citizens who were stuck in Morocco after the country closed its borders. However, the plane that appears in the video was a private plane sent by Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, not by the UAE.
On May 13, a plane carried 26 Israelis from Casablanca’s Mohammed V Airport to Paris, before Adelson’s private jet flew the group from the French capital to Tel Aviv.
While Al Jazeera did not verify the authenticity of the footage, the news outlet turned it into “proof” of normalization between the UAE and Israel.
An earlier failed attempt to organize a joint Emirati-Israeli flight to repatriate tourists stranded in Morocco may have inspired the false report.
According to Israeli media, Morocco had agreed to facilitate a repatriation flight for Israeli and Emirati citizens stranded in the country. However, Israel and the UAE angered Rabat after failing to disclose all of the flight’s details to Moroccan authorities.
The two countries had agreed to evacuate their citizens in a joint flight without consulting Moroccan authorities, leading to the flight’s cancellation and the delay of Israeli citizens’ repatriation by more than one month.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the group of stranded Israelis originally comprised 36 members, but 10 had died due to COVID-19 before they could fly back to Israel.
The Israeli nationals stayed in hotels in Marrakech and Casablanca for more than one and a half months.
Morocco suspended all international flights and maritime liaisons on March 15, leaving thousands of tourists from across the world stranded in the country. Moroccan authorities have since allowed a series of repatriation flights.
As of May 12, Morocco had helped 84,449 stranded tourists to return home through facilitating 532 special flights.