Airlines: We Cannot Return pro-Palestinian Activists Denied Entry to Israel

More than 100 political tourists from Europe are waiting in a holding facility to be deported.

The foreign airlines operating in Israel say they will have a hard time flying large groups of pro-Palestinian activists who were refused entry into the country back to their destinations of origin.

A senior official for one of the large European carriers told Haaretz on Saturday that "The airlines will have a hard time dealing all at once with large groups of pro-Palestinian activists that Israel wants to deport."

plane - Nir Kafri - July 8 2011
Nir Kafri

"We're talking about the peak of summer traveling season and the flights are full. We'll have to act accordingly and make different preparations, but first of all, we'll have to receive instructions from the head of the aviation authority in Israel for the deportation of the activists," he said.

"At present, we are unprepared to deal with this, in terms of human resources and in terms of amount of planes," the official added.

The authorities are expected to deport more than 100 pro-Palestinian activists that landed at Ben Gurion airport in the past few days. The last group of 35 activists landed on Friday just before midnight on a Lufthansa flight from Farnkfurt, and were transferred to a police detention facility.

The airline official estimated that the massive deportation will once begin on Sunday, continuing into the week, and will occur in small groups.

The official also said that in the event of violent resistance or physical commotions on the plane on the part of the deportees, the plane's captain is entitled to decide not to carry them on board. The official referenced the return of deportees that arrived in Israel on the Gaza flotilla in June 2010, during which the activists caused disruptions on the flights, delaying them.