Pro-Palestinian activists plan ‘flytilla’ via Jordan

Demonstrators hope to highlight Israel’s policy of banning foreign activists who it believes could cause a public disorder.

August 14, 2012 01:57
1 minute read.
Detained 'flytilla' activists at Ben-Gurion Airpor

Detained 'flytilla' activists at Ben-Gurion Airport 390. (photo credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO)

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators are planning their third protest event to highlight Israel’s policy of banning foreign activists who it believes could cause a public disorder while visiting the area.

Pro-Palestinian protesters believe that Israel applies the ban too broadly to include political ideology. In July 2011 and again in April 2012, activists from the grassroots organization Welcome to Palestine held a protest to highlight that issue, in which activists – mostly from Europe – flew into Ben-Gurion Airport on the same day.

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Upon arrival the pro-Palestinians announced that they had come to visit “Palestine.” In both cases, Israel blocked most of the activists from entering the country. In many cases Israel worked with the airlines, which then denied the activists the right to board the plane.

Israel also immediately deported those activists who landed at Ben-Gurion Both events, which involved hundreds of activists, were dubbed the “flytilla.”

Welcome to Palestine has organized a small group of 25 activists mostly from France who will fly into the airport in Amman on August 23.

They will visit Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, before attempting to enter the West Bank through the Allenby Bridge.

Upon arrival at the bridge the activists will tell Israeli custom officials that they have come to visit Palestine, said one of the Bethlehem organizers, Mazin Qumsiyeh.

In a statement to the press, Welcome to Palestine organizers said they had chosen to try and enter the West Bank through the Allenby Bridge because Israeli officials had suggested that this passage, rather than Ben-Gurion, was the more appropriate way to enter the area.

“We have decided to take them at their word,” the activists said.

Once in the West Bank, activists will visit Bethlehem and the region through the end of the month, according to the press release.

They will visit with Palestinians and volunteer to help prepare children for the new school year.

Activists who made it into the West Bank in July 2011 and April 2012 also participated in a range of educational and volunteer activities in support of the Palestinians.

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