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Welcome to Israel: Pro-Palestinian ‘Flytila’ Busted; 40 Refused Entry, 4 Israelis Detained (JEWISH PRESS) By: Jacob Edelist 04/15/12) Source: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-blocks-pro-palestinian-flytila-well-ahead-of-its-arrival/2012/04/15/
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UPDATE: Israel Channel 2 News reports that 40 activists altogether have been detained at Ben Gurion airport. Out of this number, 27 arrived from France and are being processed, 13 have already been put on a returning flight to Europe.
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Israel Police has released a statement saying that so far tens of passengers have been refused entry at Ben Gurion airport. Four Israeli activists waving pro-Palestinian banners were detained for questioning at the old arrivals terminal.
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Police, under the command of the Central District commander Major General Benzi Sau, are prepared to return the activists to their home countries in order to prevent any provocation. Sao noted “the police are prepared and ready for any scenario.”
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Some 650 Police were deployed in and around Ben Gurion airport Sunday with orders “to exercise restraint, but to intercept any troublemakers,” according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, as the great “flytila” of Palestinian sympathizers is beginning to arrive. But so far this has been more of a drip than a wave.
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According to Ynet, one Portuguese passenger aboard a Royal Jordanian flight from Amman, and one Canadian national aboard American Airlines were expelled.
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Organizers of the “flytila” had been expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 arrivals, a third of them from France. But Israel has been preparing since last week to prevent their entry into Ben Gurion, much less into the PA governed areas of Judea and Samaria.
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AFP quoted campaign organizer Mazin Qumsiyeh, who said that “a lot of people did manage to board planes and a lot of people have been denied.”
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“We are expecting 1,500 people from at least 15 countries, but most of them from Europe,” Qumsiyeh elaborated.
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Lufthanza, Air France, Jet2.com, as well as the Turkish authorities in Istanbul, have been preventing protesters from reaching their seats on flights to Ben Gurion.
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The “Welcome to Palestine” campaign reported that at about 6 a.m., Sunday, Swiss police and customs at Geneva airport prevented “a half- dozen passengers, duly provided with their boarding passes and already in the waiting room” from boarding an Easyjet plane to Tel Aviv. The activists were arrested and placed in a detention room.
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But if European pro-Palestinians aren’t able to arrive, local leftist groups have been planning to fill in the void. According to “Welcome to Palestine,” Israeli groups of peace activists are going to the airport carrying signs to welcome those who do manage to break through.
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Mick Napier, a British activist coordinator, told the AP that his group would sue airlines which deny access to activists wishing to fly to Israel.
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He said organizers have asked participants to be honest with Israeli airport authorities about their purpose of arrival.
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The Confederation de Syndicats National (Quebec, Canada) denounced the denial of one of their members, Julie Lachapelle, her right to visit Israel and be part of the WTP campaign. (© 2012 JewishPress. 04/15/12)
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