Hundreds of pro-Palestinian foreign activists taking part in an “aerial
flotilla” to the West Bank are expected to begin arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport
from Thursday night onward, according to police assessments.
were denied entry into Israel in recent days after their names appeared on a
no-entry list, police said, although it was not immediately clear whether they
were directly connected to the organized arrivals.
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Police on Wednesday
began boosting their presence in and around the main international arrivals area
at Terminal 3, with regular units and Special Patrol Units mobilized.
Thursday afternoon, the full police deployment will be in effect. "The
main aim is to prevent sporadic incidents,” the spokesman added. The
majority of the flights carrying activists are due to arrive from
“We are aware that the whole point of the protesters is to create
a media buzz aimed at embarrassing the State of Israel,” said
Cmdr. Bentsi Sao, head of the Central Police District, in which the
airport is located.
“We know they cannot arrive with weapons [but
believe] they will try to create provocations,” Sao said, adding that his
officers had been ordered to act with restraint.
At the same time, anyone
found “disrupting the peace, or attacking police or Interior Ministry officials”
will be arrested, he warned.
Police and the Interior Ministry denied an
earlier report that five activists had managed to get past security and were now
“We have no idea where that report came from,” a police
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held a meeting with police commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino and
Interior Ministry representatives at the airport.
“I’ve ordered all
agencies to act with determination to prevent provocations, and also to try and
prevent unnecessary confrontations,” the premier said. “Every state has the
right to prevent entry to provocateurs and to those who aim to disrupt public
In the midst of the preparations, activists and their associates
in Israel have protested what they described as erroneous representations of
their group’s aims.
“Do not deport the peace activists in the aerial
flotilla. They are not hooligans,” the Gush Shalom movement said in a letter to
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, who earlier had used that
specific term. “They are adults and families who came to visit
The letter, written by Gush Shalom spokesman Adam Keller,
said descriptions of the activists as “provocateurs” were
“This is in reality a plan by peace activists to visit the
homes of Palestinian families, called ‘Welcome to Palestine,’” Keller said.
“Whole families will take part: women, men and children.”
‘Welcome to Palestine’ said in a press release that they decried “the numerous
attempts by Israeli and other media to distort” their messages and
“We hope and expect the Israeli authorities to allow them
safe passage in compliance with international law and normal diplomatic
bilateral protocols,” the group said, referring to the international
participants. “We also reject the Israeli government threat to engage in mass
deportation of peace activists, and the apparent attempt to justify this
unjustifiable action by using rumors that they spread.”