'Flytilla' Day Approaches: Israeli Reaction 'Paranoid, Hysterical'
Airlines begin to comply with Israel, 2000 activists still on the way
Thousands of peace activists will be 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 bring attention to Israel's blockade and control over the occupied territories.
Israel has reacted by creating a blacklist of names of activists to block them from flying out of their home countries, and plans on singling out any activists when they arrive at Ben Gurion to deport them upon arrival.
Now, "Dozens of passengers who bought a plane ticket to travel to Tel Aviv Sunday on April 15 were notified Thursday by the airline Lufthansa that their reservation was canceled, 'by order of Israel,'" writes the organizers of the action Welcome to Palestine Initiative 2012.
"Israel has produced a list of names of persons to whom this country denies entry. Yours is on it, which brings us to cancel your ticket and we immediately after will refund to your credit card," employees of Lufthansa reportedly said to the passengers.
Jet2.com has also complied with Israel's request to deny activists passage to Israel.
However, up to 2,000 Palestinian sympathizers, mainly from Europe, will still attempt to board planes en route to Israel this weekend.
Israeli authorities have warned they will not permit entry to "hostile elements" and "provocateurs". Hundreds of police will be deployed to Ben Gurion airport from Saturday night.
Israel's response was "paranoid and hysterical", said Mazin Qumsiyeh, one of the organizers of the Welcome to Palestine programme. "They simply don't want the world to know what's going on in Palestine," he said, The Guardian reported.
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"The provocateurs will be dealt with in a determined and quick way," Israel's public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, said this week. "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." [...]
Airline representatives were reportedly warned that they would be expected to bear the costs of flying activists back to their point of departure. Flights carrying activists will be diverted to a smaller terminal, where security forces and immigration officials will check and question passengers.
Israel's response was "paranoid and hysterical", said Mazin Qumsiyeh, one of the organisers of the Welcome to Palestine programme and a university professor in Bethlehem. "They simply don't want the world to know what's going on in Palestine," he said. [...]
The mayor of Bethlehem, Victor Batarseh, told a press conference this week: "These people are coming to talk about peace, they are not coming to wage war against Israel. They are coming to visit the Palestinian people who are under occupation and to talk to them and to help them because these people are isolated."