Report: British airline bars 3 women traveling to Palestine

LONDON (Ma’an) — British airline Jet2.com has canceled the flight tickets of three women from the UK planning to travel to the occupied West Bank, British media reported Friday.

Earlier, Germany’s national airline Lufthansa canceled dozens of passengers who are signed up join a program visiting the West Bank which begins Sunday, organizers said.

Jet2.com emailed the women from Manchester to inform them they would not be permitted to travel after Israeli authorities said the airline would have to pay a fine and for their deportation flight, British daily The Guardian said.

A spokesman for Lufthansa also told AFP that the company was following an Israeli directive not to fly the passengers.

Some 25 organizations have invited internationals to visit Palestine from April 15-21 as part of the Welcome to Palestine week.

Israel’s public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, said Tuesday that guests of the initiative would be detained and deported, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.

“If they arrive in Israel they will be identified, removed from the plane, their entry into Israel will be prevented and they will be moved to a detention facility until they are flown out of Israel,” Aharonovitch said.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma’an on Wednesday that police were preparing for the visitors’ arrival and implementing measures inside and outside the airport. He did not elaborate.

Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh urged Israel to let the visitors enter and not to humiliate them.

“We demand our international friends have access to Bethlehem,” the mayor said.

“It is our right to welcome visitors.”

Palestinian organizations have arranged a week-long program, starting Sunday, which includes helping to build a school in Bethlehem and day trips to Hebron, the Jordan Valley, Ramallah and Jerusalem.

All visitors to the West Bank must first pass Israeli border control and many arriving in Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport do not tell Israeli security if they will be visiting Palestinian areas as this leads to interrogation and often deportation.

But the campaign has asked its guests to be open about their plans to visit the West Bank.

(www.maannews.net / 14.04.2012)

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