3 ´flytilla´ activists reach Bethlehem (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Attila Somfalvi Latest Update: 04.15.12, 19:04)
YNet News - Yediot Achronot
YNet News - Yediot Achronot Articles-Index-Top
Palestinians say three pro-Palestinian activists managed to escape
airport scrutiny. Majority of activists who arrived in Israel
detained. Internal Security Minister Aharonovitch satisfied with
authorities´ handling of situation
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch expressed his
satisfaction with the way security forces handled attempts by pro-
Palestinian activists to enter Israel as part of the "flytilla"
protest, and praised the police for "enabling the airport to function
"There were several activists who tried to cause provocations but
were swiftly detained," he said.
However, Israel failed to prevent the entry of all of the activists.
A French activist who arrived at Bethlehem via the Ben Gurion Airport
took part in a press conference and revealed that two others had also
escaped airport scrutiny and arrived at the city.
Thus far, 48 activists landed in Israel, the majority of which were
transferred to the Givon prison. Nine activists were sent back to
their countries of origin, three await departure and two are being
held in a special facility.
The French activist said that 50 activists from Lyon, France were
planning to board a flight to Israel, but that nearly half were
denied boarding. She said 29 succeeded in boarding the flight.
She said that having arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport she was
shifted around and eventually "found herself outside the airport."
During the press conference, the fly-in´s organizers said that 400
French activists, 100 Belgian activists and others were not allowed
to board flights to Israel.
They responded to the Israeli government´s "welcome letter" and said
that a democracy does not deport people back to their countries. "The
Israeli authorities have exposed their true face, " they said.
The organizers also noted that they will not be cancelling their
activities in the West Bank and noted that there are 20 pro-
Palestinian activists in Bethlehem, most of whom were not part of
The activists include citizens from France, Italy, Spain, Canada,
Portugal and Switzerland. Nine Israeli leftist activists who
protested at the Ben Gurion Airport were also detained for
It was also revealed that a French activist who managed to pass
through airport security was close to enter Israel before he was
Prior to boarding the plane in Paris, the activist received a note
with directions to Bethlehem. After entering the terminal in Israel,
he showed the note to a police officer in civilian clothing that was
posted outside the security control circles surrounding the plane.
The policeman arrested the activist and escorted him to a special
facility for those refused entry. He is expected to leave Israel in
As part of preparations for the fly-in, organizers provided the
activists with instructions and directions to help them reach the
An initial investigation revealed that the French activist boarded a
flight that was marked by the police and its passengers were
thoroughly checked. It was only during his questioning that
immigration control realized the man intended to go to Bethlehem, and
was stopped only because he showed the note to the wrong person.
Aharonovitch expressed his gratitude to the European countries and
airlines that have prevented pro-Palestinian activists from boarding
flights to Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also commented on the fly-in during
a meeting with US Senator Joe Lieberman.
He reiterated a message conveyed in a letter the activists received
upon their arrival in Israel and suggested that they examine the
issue of human rights in such countries as Iran and Syria where
thousands of innocent civilians are being slaughtered and women are
being stoned, respectively.
He also noted that in Gaza, children are being used as human shields
for terrorists who fire rockets at Israeli civilians.
More activists set to arrive
During a police press briefing, several Israeli activists tried to
cause disruptions and were stopped by officers. Five activists were
detained for questioning.
A police official noted that the main bulk of the activists will be
arriving in flights which are scheduled to land between 5 pm and 7
pm. He noted that most of the activists had been identified and
barred from boarding the flights to Israel.
Palestinian organizers said that several activists had arrived in
Bethlehem on Sunday. They accused Israel of introducing a new airport
procedure which demands tourists to sign a statement declaring they
will not contact or work with members of pro-Palestinian organizers.
Eli Senyor contributed to this report (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY