Ben-Gurion Airport
Ben-Gurion Airport arrivals lounge. Photo by Dan Keinan
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Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists and their families plan to fly to Israel in mid-April to commemorate Land Day, a member of the event's organizing committee told Haaretz. "On April 15, more than 1,000 activists with European and other passports intend to fly to Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport for an event entitled 'Welcome to Palestine,'" he said.

Last Friday's protests in the Arab community in Israel and the neighboring states, which marked the 36th anniversary of the March 30, 1976, demonstrations during which Israeli security forces killed six Israeli Arabs, have opened a local and international popular Palestinian campaign, the activist said.

"The activists will bear a message of peace, not weapons, and ask to travel to the West Bank. We intend to raise the Palestinian issue with an emphasis on al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the Palestinian state's future capital, and on Israel's attempt to sever it from the West Bank," he said.

He said Israel knew of their plans and has asked foreign airlines not to allow some 370 pro-Palestinian activists onto the Israel-bound flights, calling the move a provocation.

The activists also intend to lay the cornerstone for an international educational institution near Bethlehem, the organizers said in a newsletter.

Last year more than 300 activists were prevented from boarding flights to Israel and 140 others were detained on arrival and deported.

"Netanyahu called us terrorists. We say we are activists visiting the West Bank like any other tourist, with a message of peace," an activist said.