According to Israeli sources, at least 60 activists were detained and taken for interrogation and a total of 25 others were denied entry into Israel on Friday. The activists were part of the pro-Palestinian “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, organizing the “flytilla” to Israel.
Two American women, who flew to Israel from Greece, are among the deported.
Authorities say they had identified the flights with activists onboard and diverted them from the international terminal to an adjacent one so that security officials could arrest them.
Several left-wing Israeli activists who tried to raise “Welcome to Palestine” signs were also arrested in the Ben Gurion Airport’s arrivals hall on Friday.
Hundreds of activists planned to fly to Israel on Friday on a peaceful mission to express solidarity with the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and to protest against Israeli border policies.
But Israeli officials preempted the foreign activists’ campaign by releasing a list to international airlines requesting them to block 342 passengers for their pro-Palestinian activities.
“Israel has given airlines a list of 342 unwanted people, warning them that they will be immediately turned back at the expense of the companies,” Immigration spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said.
The Israeli measure stopped some 200 activists from flying to Tel Aviv.
In a statement, the organizers of the “flytilla” campaign condemned the Israeli pressure on airlines, saying the action shows restrictions on access to Palestinian areas. They have also threatened legal action.
(www.presstv.ir / 08.07.2011)