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Israel Prevents Palestinian Activists From Entering

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Taken from the UK Telegraph.


Hundreds of israeli police officers were waiting to greet the Palestinian protesters, along with a band of nationalistic israelis.

Organisers for the protest against the expansion of israeli settlements into Palestinian territory claim that more than 60 per cent of those who attempted to participate in the protest were forbidden from flying by airlines who received a list of 1200 blacklisted names from israel's ministry of interior.

Several of those prevented from flying, mostly from European states, are now threatening to sue airlines including Easy Jet, Air France and Lufthansa, accusing them of "bowing to israeli pressure".

There were angry scenes at Belgian and French airports on Saturday where hundreds of activists were barred from boarding their flights to Tel Aviv. Of those protesters who succeeded in flying into israel, 43 were detained on arrival. israeli police confirmed that 31 were taken to Givon prison in Ramle and 12 activists from Portugal, Canada, Switzerland, and France were flown straight out of the country.[

Nine israelis sympathetic with the protest were arrested at Ben Gurion airport.

"We are here to tell them to go home. If you have come here to attack us, I am here to defend myself," explained Daniel Gilad, a counter-protester who arrived at the airport at 9am on Sunday to meet the 'flytilla'.

israel's foreign ministry has waged a determined campaign among European counterparts in recent weeks, advertising their position against the fly-in and describing the protesters as provocateurs.

A letter that the israeli government intends to present to protesters on their arrival was leaked to local media on Saturday evening. Quoted enthusiastically by pro-israel demonstrators gathered at Ben Gurion airport, it begins: "Dear activist, we appreciate your choosing to make israel the object of your humanitarian concerns. We know there were many other worthy choices.

"You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime's daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives ... But instead you chose to protest against israel, the Middle East's sole democracy."

Protest organiser Dr Mazin Qumsiyeh, who teaches at three of the top Palestinian universities, denied israel's claim the protest was intended to cause disruption. Dr Qumsiyeh insists the purpose was to draw foreign tourists to the West Bank where they would be shown the reality of life for Palestinians under israeli occupation.

israel's "paranoid", "hysterical" reaction to the initiative, he argues, has proved the demonstrators' point: "israel's policy is now clear – anyone who comes to visit Palestine, to visit relatives, to work in its universities or health system, simply is not allowed. They have to lie and say they are visiting israel as a tourist."


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/9205594/israeli-police-detain-flytilla-Palestinian-protesters.html[/font][/color]

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