European airlines cancel tickets of pro-Palestinian 'flytilla' activists
Ahead of Sunday's planned 'fly-in,' Israel's Interior Minister sends airlines list of names of blacklisted activists, threatens punitive steps if companies allow them to board Israel-bound flights.
Dozens of pro-Palestinian activists were prevented from boarding Israel-bound flights on Friday, due to the fact that their names appeared on a blacklist distributed by the Israeli government to a number of European airlines.
The activists were on their way to participate in a fly-in protest against Israeli construction in West Bank settlements, scheduled to take place on Sunday. Last July, a similar “fly-in” took place, with over 300 international activists arriving in Israel, and 120 detained.
In the letter, which was obtained by Haaretz, Amnon Shmueli of the Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority writes, "In light of statements by radical pro-Palestinian activists indicating that they intend to arrive on commercial flights from abroad, in order to disturb the peace and confront security forces at Ben Gurion International Airport and at other points of friction, it has been decided to forbid their entrance, in accordance with my authority according to the Law of Entry to Israel."
Referring to a list of names of known pro-Palestinian activists whom Israel suspects will attempt to enter the country over the weekend, which was included in the letter, Shmueli writes, "In light of the above, you are requested not to board them onto Israel-bound flights.
The letter then goes on to threaten punitive steps if the airlines fail to comply with Israeli demands. "A failure to uphold this directive is liable to lead to leveling of sanctions against the airlines."
"This is only a partial list, and additional lists will be sent subsequently. There is a high probability that the entry of additional activists will be prevented, whose names we cannot pass on ahead of time," the letter continues.
After receiving the letter, a number of European airlines, including the German airline Lufthansa, contacted activists whose names appeared on the list and notified them that their tickets had been cancelled and would be refunded.
Police expect between 500 and 1,000 activists will attempt to enter Israel from European countries as part of the action, called "Welcome to Palestine." Police are planning to intercept them at the airport and prevent their entry into the country. Hundreds of police officers are expected to be stationed at the airport ahead of their arrival, most of them unarmed and clothed in civilian dress.