Israel Holds Pro-Palestinian Activists at Airport

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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Israeli officials have detained more than 30 suspected pro-Palestinian activists who arrived from Europe at the international airport near Tel Aviv on Friday.

Organizers of the fly-in had said they expected hundreds of activists to arrive in Israel this week for what they call a show of solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank.

However, Israel deployed hundreds of police officers at the Ben Gurion airport and sent airports and airlines in Europe a list with the names of more than 300 people that it said would be barred from entry.

Airport officials and air carriers in Europe prevented more than 200 of the blacklisted activists from boarding flights to Tel Aviv.

The fly-in follows an attempt by hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to organize an aid flotilla to challenge the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip. The flotilla stalled after Greece banned the ships from sailing from its ports.

Last year, nine Turkish activists who were part of a Gaza-bound flotilla were killed during a confrontation with Israeli commandos.

On Friday, Reuters news quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying it would be “unthinkable” for his country to normalize ties with Israel unless Israel apologized for the deaths of the Turkish activists. The news agency says he made the comments in a speech to parliament.