First Emirati astronaut reveals he took Israeli flag to space
December 23, 2021
'It was a precious, touching gift to receive,' says Josh Bandit, the Israeli pavilion organizer
The United Arab Emirates's first astronaut in space, Hazzaa al-Mansoori, revealed he brought an Israeli flag to his 2019 flight, Israeli media reported Thursday.
Alon Ushpiz, the foreign ministry director-general, posted that al-Mansoori presented the flag to Israeli officials during a visit to the Israeli pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai.
"I am happy to be here and to give the Israeli flag as a gift to the people here and to the public in Israel," al-Mansoori said, according to Ynet.
"I took this flag with me two years ago on my first mission, as a statement astronaut who flew into space - so this is a gift for all Israelis."
Al-Mansoori flew aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft in September 2019, staying in the station for eight days. He landed in Kazakhstan upon his return.
He flew a year before the Abraham Accords normalized ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
"It was a precious, touching gift to receive," said Josh Bandit, the Israeli pavilion organizer, according to The Jerusalem Post.
"To come dressed in his spacesuit and visit our pavilion - it shows a genuine caring for Israelis," Bandit added.
Al-Mansoori also stated his intent to visit Israel as soon as possible, in accordance with Covid restrictions.