Israeli forces are readying to confront thousands of peace activists who are attempting a "fly-in" or "flytilla" to Israel's Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv this weekend before heading to Bethlehem in the West Bank in a call to end the occupation and call out Israel's blockade and control over the occupied territories.
Israel has attempted to blacklist names of activists to block them from being able to fly out of their home countries, and plans on singling out any activists when they arrive at Ben Gurion to deport them upon arrival.
Airlines in Europe and the United States have already gotten requests from Israel to blacklist activists to thwart their flight plans.
Endorsers of the action organized by Welcome to Palestine Initiative 2012 include Noam Chomsky, Hedy Epstein, John Pilger, Nawal Al Sadaawi and Desmond Tutu. Their letter of endorsement stated that "Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors."
"Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel's policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenseless Palestinian civilian population."
A letter from organizers of the event stated: “We are saying that we are activists en route to the West Bank like any other tourist, with a message of peace, calling for an end to the occupation, and granting rights to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories.”
Mick Napier, UK coordinator for Welcome to Palestine 2012, stated that the action's "aim is very clear, modest and minimal, it's to highlight the fact that Israel has turned the West Bank into prison and is not allowing the prisoners to receive visitors."
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Agence France-Presse: Israeli forces prepare for pro-Palestinian 'flytilla'
Hundreds of activists mainly from European countries are expected to try to fly into Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, with the goal of travelling to the Palestinian West Bank.
The so-called "Welcome to Palestine" campaign, which has been dubbed a "flytilla," is taking place for the third year.
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The Jerusalem Post: Police gearing up for another ‘flytilla’
Police will beef up their presence at the airport and single out activists when they deplane with the intention of arresting them and deporting them back to their point of origin as quickly as possible, with minimum disruption to ordinary passengers in the airport.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Channel 1 news on Monday evening that Israel hopes it will succeed in preventing many of the travelers from boarding planes in their home countries, by sending blacklists with activists’ names to foreign airports like it did last year.
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“Israel will prevent this provocation, as every country prohibits hostile elements from entering their borders,” said Aharonovitch.
Aharonovitch added that “The provocateurs will be dealt with firmly and quickly, there will be no chases in the halls of the airport. Israel police and relevant organizations are prepared to preserve the normal airport routine while preventing any extreme provocations.”
Joint preparations were made by all of the relevant organizations, including the Israel Police, the Population and Immigration Authority, as well as the Israel Airport’s Authority and Ben Gurion Airport security personnel. [...]
European activists responsible for organizing the protests released a letter explaining their intentions. According to the document, activists will be joined by journalists and other media officials, to show that they have no violent intentions, that their destination is the West Bank, and nowhere in Israel. Once in the West Bank, the group plans to lay the cornerstone for a future educational institution near Bethlehem. [...]
The activists claim they wish message to the international community regarding the continuing Israeli blockade on the occupied territories. “We are saying that we are activists en route to the West Bank like any other tourist, with a message of peace, calling for an end to the occupation, and granting rights to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories,” read the letter.
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"We, the undersigned, endorse the call from the Welcome to Palestine 2012 Initiative for supporters of Palestinian human and national rights around the world to openly visit Palestine during Easter 2012.
"There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points. Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors.
"Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel's policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population.
"We call on governments to support the right of Palestinians to receive visitors and the right of their own citizens to visit Palestine openly.
"The participants in Welcome to Palestine 2012 ask to be allowed to pass through Tel Aviv airport without hindrance and to proceed to the West Bank to take part in a project there for children to benefit from the right to education."
Ambassador Manuel Hassassian
Nawal Al Sadaawi