Israel Security Forces Gear Up to Deflect pro-Palestinian ‘Fly-in’ Protest

Thousands of pro Palestinian activists purchase tickets on flights scheduled to arrive in Israel next week, as part of the 'Welcome to Palestine' campaign.

Israel Police are preparing to send reinforcements to Ben-Gurion Airport next Sunday to prevent the entry of a large group of pro Palestinian activists planning to journey to the West Bank. Their effort is part of a campaign entitled “Welcome to Palestine.”

Last July, a similar “fly-in” took place, with over 300 international activists arriving in Israel, and 120 detained.

Pro-Palestinian fly-in - 8.7.11
Ilan Assayag

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, in charge of dealing with the fly-in, indicated on Sunday that there has been extensive preparation and planning, similar to preparation leading up to the last year’s protest.

During the last coordination meeting, Aharonovitch stressed that Ben Gurion airport staff was instructed to exercise restraint during the protest, while doing everything in their power to ensure the safe, orderly execution of the daily routine at the airport.

“Israel will prevent this provocation, as every country prohibits hostile elements from entering their borders,” said Aharonovitch.

Aharonovitch added that “The provocateurs will be dealt with firmly and quickly, there will be no chases in the halls of the airport. Israel police and relevant organizations are prepared to preserve the normal airport routine while preventing any extreme provocations.”

Joint preparations were made by all of the relevant organizations, including the Israel Police, the Population and Immigration Authority, as well as the Israel Airport’s Authority and Ben Gurion Airport security personnel.

In similar fashion to the previous fly-in, provocateurs will be identified in their home counties, and then prevented from boarding flights to Israel. Those who succeed in boarding flights for Israel will be identified upon landing, their entry into Israel will be prohibited, and they will be held in custody temporarily while waiting to fly out of Israel.

Meanwhile, the organizers of the fly-in have reported that they are continuing their plans. Reports indicate that over 2,500 activists have registered, and most of them have already purchased plane tickets.

Also, airlines in Europe and the United States have already received requests from Israel to prevent activists from boarding flights, with claims voiced that Israel has sent representatives and security personnel to the airports from which activists are meant to fly.

European activists responsible for organizing the protests released a letter explaining their intentions. According to the document, activists will be joined by journalists and other media officials, to show that they have no violent intentions, that their destination is the West Bank, and nowhere in Israel. Once in the West Bank, the group plans to lay the cornerstone for a future educational institution near Bethlehem.

The document states that the activists have no intentions of deceit, and upon arriving at the airport they will declare their destination to be Bethlehem. The group has hired an Israeli bus, and is willing to be escorted by Israeli police to Bethlehem, to prove that they have no intention of reaching any other destination.

The activists claim they wish message to the international community regarding the continuing Israeli blockade on the occupied territories. “We are saying that we are activists en route to the West Bank like any other tourist, with a message of peace, calling for an end to the occupation, and granting rights to the Palestinian people in the occupied territories,” read the letter.