B-G Airport: 39 pro-Palestinian activists denied entry

Activists arrive on Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt as part of "air flotilla," taken to Beersheba prison for questioning; 124 refused entry in total, awaiting deportation; Yishai commends efforts by security forces.

July 9, 2011 10:17
3 minute read.
Israeli activists protest at B-G airport, Friday.

pro-palestinian activists at airport_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

Thirty nine pro-Palestinian activists that arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport as part of the "air flotilla" were refused entry to the country and were taken to Ela Prison in Beersheba for questioning on Saturday morning.

The Immigration and Population Authority reported that the activists arrived on a Lufthansa flight late Friday night.

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Business as usual at B-G as police await 'Flightilla'
Police prepare for arrival of 'air flotilla' activists

124 activists have been detained in prisons around the country in total and were awaiting deportation, including 76 women and 48 men.

On Friday,
Interior Minister Eli Yishai commended the Immigration and Population Authority for preventing activists from entering the country and holding disruptive demonstrations in Ben-Gurion International Airport.

"The Immigration department is doing a good job," he said. "They prevented a few illegal activists from entering." He continued, "We will take a firm hand against anyone disregarding [our] laws, and like any other sovereign state we will use any means at our disposal to prevent people intent on breaking the law from entering the country."

Yishai's statements in support of the police and border guards stationed at Ben-Gurion Airport over the weekend came after police diverted two passenger aircraft that landed at the airport earlier on Friday. Security forces detained at least 250 suspected pro-Palestinian activists for questioning. Participants in the "Air Flotilla" arrived on three other flights as well.

Police said that 69 activists have been denied entry. Four of those denied entry were sent back to their original destinations, while the rest were taken into custody until flights could be arranged, Army Radio reported.

Two of the flights, one EasyJet from Geneva and one Alitalia, were diverted to Terminal 1, where police combed passengers for pro-Palestinian activists expected to attempt entry into the country as part of the "Air Flotilla," Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Police believed a bulk of foreign pro-Palestinian activists were on those jets.

After police finished checking the flights, passengers not connected to the groups of activists were ferried back to Terminal 3. The suspected activists
were taken to a separate area of the airport for questioning.

The activists involved represented a number of different countries, including the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino said his officers "succeeded in meeting the mission set by the government." Undercover agents and police continued to be deployed at the airport as more "air flotilla" participants were expected to arrive.

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Meanwhile, six left-wing Israeli activists were arrested after causing a disturbance in the arrivals area at Terminal Three, police added.

"Five males and one female are being questioned," Rosenfeld said.

The activists held up signs inside the terminal saying "Welcome to Palestine."

Several of them were taken outside by police where they were arrested and attacked by bystanders.

Earlier Friday, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch
said that even though hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists taking part in the "air flotilla" were prevented from entering Israel, "the wave was still ahead of us," adding that in the coming hours approximately 100 activists are expected to land in Israel.

"We're not taking any chances," the minister said.

Ahronovitch made the comments during an assessment held at the airport together with Danino and other senior police officials.

During the meeting, the latest security preparedness was discussed, and the minister heard that all security agencies were able to "significantly minimize" attempts by hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists abroad from reaching Israel, by preventing them from boarding at their point of origin, the Public Ministry said in a statement.

"At the same time, police preparations at Ben-Gurion Airport is creating deterrence," the statement added. "The presence of undercover and overt forces at the airport has prevented many who sought to disturb public order from heading [to Israel]," the statement added.

Police were also mobilized at the Temple Mount and along the green line to prevent any disturbances.

Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon, and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

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