700 pro-Palestinian activists to land at Ben-Gurion Airport

Passengers will declare their intention to visit W. Bank, declare their destination as Palestine, expect to be deported.

New York activist Laura Durkay plans to name Palestine as her destination when she lands at Ben-Gurion Airport this Friday, even though such a response is likely to ensure her deportation.

As pro-Palestinian activists are struggling to set sail to Gaza from Greece, a separate informal group is targeting Ben-Gurion airport.

Durkay is one of 700 activists, mostly from Europe, who plan to land in Ben Gurion on the same day, in an event titled, “Welcome Palestine.” They hope to support Palestinian statehood and the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank.

They also want to make a statement about the importance of freedom of movement and access into the Palestinian territories.

The Foreign Ministry has already said that it plans to prevent the group’s entry into Israel. Israel has in the past denied entry to international activists it believes plan to create disturbances while they are here.

As a result many international activists tend to misrepresent the purpose of their visit when quizzed by border control officials at the airport.

“Instead of lying about their destination, they will say that they are coming for a week of solidarity with the Palestinian people,” Israeli activist Sergio Yahini said.

If they are allowed to enter, they will participate In a week of solidarity activities, he said. If they are denied entry, there will be a demonstration at the airport and Israel will have to deal with the deportation of 700 activists, he said.

On a video posted on Youtube, Palestinian activist Lubna Marsawa said, “What we are planning for the 8th of July, could be the beginning of the marches to Palestine.”

She added, “We are fed up with words and we need to take action.”

A press release put out by the group said that the activists had been invited by some 40 Palestinian organizations.

“The draconian and discriminating procedures at the borders of Israel have but one aim: to further isolate Palestinians and reinforce their inferior status,” the group said in its press release.

“We are flying to Ben-Gurion on July 8th to visit friends in Palestine, and we insist that our own governments support us in doing so. Supporting our visit to Palestine will be one small step towards bringing about the freedom of movement for all the peoples of Israel/Palestine that is essential for peace and justice in the Middle East,” the group added.

Durkay, 29, said she first became involved in the Palestinian struggle while she was a student at Columbia University in New York.

She traveled to Gaza in 2009 and visited the West Bank last summer. Although she did not initially encounter any problems entering Israel, she was detained for five hours at the Allenby Bridge after returning to Israel from a brief trip to Jordan.

“We are not trying to do anything threatening. Everyone should have the right to free movement and travel in the Palestinian territories. That is what this action is about,” she said. We are here in the spirit of peaceful solidarity.”

(www.jpost.com / 03.07.2011)

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