Israel Denies Entry to Pro-Palestinian Activists

Posted April 15th, 2012 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Israel on Sunday denied entry to hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists who planned to launch a “Welcome to Palestine” campaign in the West Bank.

Israeli authorities said they blocked a “fly-in” by the activists, who were to arrive at an airport near Tel Aviv. They said the activists were planning disruptions at the airport and protests in the West Bank.

Israeli Information Minister Yuli Edelstein said it was “very unfortunate that we have to face once again the kind of provocation coming from extremists from different countries.” He insisted that “those who will make it to Israel will not be allowed to create any disorder.”

But Palestinian organizer Abdul Fatah abu Suroor said Israel is blocking a peace mission. He said the activists are coming to Palestine, not Israel, and not in order to attack Israelis, but rather “to share a bit of humanity and support the Palestinian people despite being under occupation.”

Activists said Israel's blockade of the fly-in further exposes its repressive policies toward the Palestinians.

European airlines canceled the tickets of more than 100 campaigners after Israel issued a blacklist. Although some of the activists managed to arrive at the airport, they were immediately detained and will be deported.

Israel has been wary of international activists, and sparked international outrage in May 2010 when commandos from helicopters intercepted a flotilla of blockade-breaking aid ships and killed nine pro-Palestinian activists on a Turkish vessel. Israel said its forces acted in self-defense after passengers on the aid ship attacked them.


AP feed: (English) Abdelfattah Abusrour, “fly-in” event organiser:

“The message is clear that people have the right to come to Palestine, people have the right to say they are coming to Palestine. And Israel practising its policy of apartheid and segregation against Palestinian people is not going to stop us inviting people in inviting people, welcoming them in to our houses, sharing with us some beauty, humanity, culture and defence of the values that we share as human beings.”

(English) Tanya, no last name given, from Lyon, France, one of two who successfully made it in to the country on the “fly-in”:

“It is really, really important for me to be here because I think that we all have the right just to be able to come to Palestine, to meet Palestinian people.”


(Hebrew) Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister:

“What are they doing here anyway? Why did they come to Israel, the Middle East's only democracy? They want to check the issue of human rights, let them go to Syria, maybe they can help stop the murder of thousands of innocent victims, or to Iran to stop the stoning of women, or to Gaza to stop the use of children as human shields for terrorists launching rockets at our citizens. After they do their educational tour, let them come here. We'll talk to them about what they learned in the Middle East – the way it is.”