Israel acting preemptively at home and abroad to thwart ´flightilla´ (ISRAEL HAYOM) Nitzi Yakov, Yori Yalon, Shlomo Cesana and Ilan Gattegno 04/12/12)
Israel Hayom Articles-Index-Top
Foreign Ministry tells countries their citizens face arrest if they
arrive in Israel • Authorities expect between 500 and 1,000 activists
on Sunday • Israel Law Center asks attorney-general to prosecute pro-
Palestinian activists participating in protest.
Israeli security forces, both domestically and abroad, are taking
preemptive measures to prevent pro-Palestinian activists, mainly from
Europe, from boarding flights to Israel as part of the
scheduled "flightilla" protest starting Sunday.
The planned protest aims to flood Israel´s Ben-Gurion International
Airport with demonstrators on Sunday, who will then travel to other
locations to take part in demonstrations against Israeli policy in
the Palestinian territories.
Foreign Ministry representatives have contacted several countries
requesting that they call on their citizens not to participate in the
fly-in, and to further warn them that if they choose to board the
flights anyway, they will face arrest upon their arrival in Israel.
In addition, Israel has warned European airlines that if they allow
activists to board their planes, the airlines will be responsible for
covering the costs of deportation back to their home countries.
Security officials have sent lists of names of potential activists to
the foreign airlines in an attempt to thwart their arrival.
The Israel Law Center, a civil rights organization, has asked the
attorney-general to prosecute pro-Palestinian activists arriving in
Israel as part of the "flightilla" rather than simply deporting them,
as the security authorities intend to do, Israel Radio reported on
The organization claims that releasing the activists without bringing
them to justice is not reasonable and is likely to be harmful as the
activists will continue to try to enter Israel.
The Foreign Ministry said this week that a number of countries have
agreed to issue warnings against participating in the "flightilla."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that the ministry was
coordinating its steps with several foreign consulates ahead of the
The Population and Immigration Authority on Wednesday issued a list
of activists who have been denied entry into the country, together
with a letter asking foreign airlines to prevent the activists from
boarding flights heading to Israel. Authorities estimate that between
500 and 1,000 anti-Israel activities will try to enter the country on
Sunday, and will attempt to go to areas under Palestinian Authority
rule. According to "flightilla" organizers, about 1,500 activists
will try to make their way to Israel.
The Israel Police was also gearing up for the possible arrival of the
activists, and began to station forces at the airport on Thursday.
Overall, the police was set to deploy more than 650 officers ahead of
However, police sources said they expected not much more than a
publicity stunt, adding that if the activists were to disrupt the
peace or stage riots it would be fairly easy to contain them.
"The challenge is not the riots, even if there are hundreds of
activists. This is not the Temple Mount, nor is it Silwan or the
Northern District. What we want is to prevent the organizers of the
fly-in from making any public relations achievements like those that
were achieved in the Mavi Marmara incident," a senior police officer
said on Wednesday, referring to the May 2010 deaths of nine Turkish
activists headed for Gaza on a protest ship.
As part the lessons learned from previous fly-ins, a large number of
policemen who will be stationed at the airport will be dressed in
civilian clothing, so as not to draw any attention to the activists.
The police will also try to minimize media coverage of the fly-in in
efforts to eliminate the incentive for a provocation. Security
authorities believe the peak arrival of the activists at the airport
will be at around 9 a.m. on Sunday with the first ones arriving from
Turkey. The airport demonstration is expected to last until about 7
p.m. with activists set to travel on a long list of flights from
across Europe. Authorities say there is also a possibility that
individual activists will arrive at the airport after the end of the
Passover holiday on Saturday.
Police intend to divert activists arriving on Sunday to Terminal 1,
which will be completely evacuated, and not the busier Terminal 3.
Police forces are also preparing for the arrival of right-wing
activists, who plan to hold counter-protests at the airport.
Although police preparations have already been finalized, some
officers this week expressed criticism of too much "unnecessary
chatter" taking place in the police. The officers claimed that some
confidential details of the fly-in preparations have been exposed,
and that this was playing into the hands of the organizers.
Apparently, police preparations were initially made behind closed
doors with the intent of keeping the media away.
But statements made by Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch
and senior police officers made the details of the preparations
impossible to keep under wraps.
"The decision was to keep a lid on the details so that this
information would not get to the anarchists who are planning to come
to Israel," a senior police officer said, adding that it would have
been better had Aharonovitch not been interviewed on the subject.
Another senior officer said that, "the revelation of the preparations
and all the publicity surrounding the activists is turning the fly-in
into a battle between David and Goliath and that´s exactly what the
organizers of the ´flightilla´ want in order to embarrass us in front
of the entire world."
The Public Security Ministry issued a statement saying, "the media
already had all of the information in great detail, and most of the
reports have come from the anarchists anyway."
The left-wing activists coming are reportedly planning to stay at the
Palestinian Bethlehem Peace Center. The left-wing movement Gush
Shalom on Wednesday called on the police to cancel their preparations
ahead of the arrival of the activists.
Meanwhile, two Palestinians and two foreign radical left-wing
activists were arrested on Wednesday in Hebron after they attacked
Israeli security forces.
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