flotilla - Reuters - June 28 2011
Pro-Palestinian activists in Greece, June 28, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Israel has instructed foreign airlines to prevent 300 pro-Palestinian activists from boarding flights to Israel over the weekend, after Israeli security forces handed them the names of 300 people who they had blacklisted.

The Transportation Ministry requested that foreign airlines report to Israeli authorities if any of the blacklisted passengers appear on their flights to Israel in the next 24 hours, stressing that these people will not be granted entry into Israel.

In effect, Israel's instructions mean that the foreign airlines will not allow those passengers to board their flights in airports abroad, so they would not need to fly them back to their countries of origin after being deported by Israel.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists were expected to arrive in Israel for a mass protest over the weekend, as a counterpart to the Gaza-bound flotilla which had encountered numerous setbacks.

Thus far, no activists were known to be prevented from boarding flights abroad, but most of the flights are only expected to depart on Thursday night.

"This event will end with either no problems or as a catastrophe. There will not be a middle-ground," a senior official at Ben-Gurion International Airport told Haaretz. He said that it only takes about 30 activists to make a scene at the airport for media outlets to widely report on it and thus hand the activists their victory.

A senior official at a European airline told Haaretz that this was an unprecedented request on Israel's part. "In the past we have gotten one or two names that authorities had banned their entry," he said. "This move is problematic because if we receive an updated list later on, we will have to fly back the plane at the expense of other passengers who had purchased regular tickets."

On Thursday at 10 P.M., a military command post will be opened at Ben-Gurion, in order to directly tend to the pro-Palestinian activists expected to arrive over the weekend.