Israel Police Decrease Presence at Airport After pro-Palestinian Activists Stopped Abroad

Police believe most of the 300 pro-Palestinian activists blacklisted by Israel to be prevented from flying at airports abroad; Israel security forces lower state of alert.

Israel Police decided to decrease security presence at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Thursday evening, saying it no longer expects a mass fly-in of pro-Palestinian activists to Israel because most of them had been already stopped abroad.

The first wave of activists is due to arrive between 1 A.M. and 4 A.M. overnight Thursday, but police believe only a small number of activists will actually be arriving.

Increased security at Ben-Gurion Airport, July 6, 2011
Moti Milrod

More activists are expected to arrive in Israel on Friday afternoon, but police believe that most of them had already been prevented from departing in airports abroad, after the Transportation Ministry had handed foreign airlines a list of 300 people who have been blacklisted by Israel.

Meanwhile on Thursday, a Hungarian airline stopped dozens of French activists heading for a pro-Palestinian "fly-in" to Israel from boarding a plane in Paris.

An activist at Charles de Gaulle airport said his group had attempted to leave for Tel Aviv early on Thursday but were denied seats aboard their flight, operated by Hungarian airline Malev, at the request of Israeli authorities.

"The activists who were supposed to embark on the Malev flight were denied boarding because their names are on a black list compiled by Israel's interior ministry," Frederic Stella, who was part of the departing group, told Reuters.

France's foreign ministry expressed concern about the risk of clashes between activists and Israeli security forces if the former reached their destination.

"France is worried by the risk of incidents and clashes that could develop at Tel Aviv airport on Friday," spokesman Bernard Valero said in a statement. Israeli authorities will not let anyone whom they consider a threat to public order enter the country, he said.

The Transportation Ministry requested earlier Thursday 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.