'Air Flotilla' lands, 69 activists barred entry
LAST UPDATED: 07/08/2011 17:17
250 suspected pro-Palestinian activists detained from among five different flights for police questioning; Four activists returned home; Danino says police have met gov't goals at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Police diverted two passenger aircraft that landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Friday and detained at least 250 suspected pro-Palestinian activists that landed at the airport 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.
as usual at B-G as police await 'Flightilla'
prepare for arrival of 'air flotilla' activists
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 continue to be deployed at Ben-Gurion Airport as more "air flotilla" participants were expected to arrive.
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.
made the comments during an assessment held at Ben Gurion Airport on
Friday morning together with police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan 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 are also mobilized at the Temple Mount and along the green line to prevent any disturbances.
are a number of flights scheduled to arrive this afternoon that
immigration authorities will pay special attention to, the Police
spokesman told The Jerusalem Post.
200 foreign activists are believed to have been banned from boarding
flights bound for Israel in various European airports.
The Interior Ministry told foreign airlines on Thursday they were required under
Israeli law to remove “pro-Palestinian radicals” from flights bound for
Also speaking at the airport on Friday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai
commented that the "Immigration department is doing a good job. They
prevented a few illegal activists from entering."
He added that "we have a list of some people who are planning to hold illegal demonstrations around the country."
At Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport, fifty pro-Palestinian
activists arrived at the Lufthansa terminal hoping to board a flight to
Israel, and then refused to leave the terminal after they were blocked
from boarding the plane, Israel Radio reported.
leader of the EuroPalestine organization that is arranging the "air
flotilla," said that the blacklist includes names of 347 activists.
de Gaulle Airport is under Israeli occupation. We are peaceful people
and have no interest in causing disorder at Ben Gurion Airport," Zemour
was quoted by Israel Radio as saying.
In Geneva, EasyJet also refused to let 30 acitivists on board a flight to Israel.
Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon, and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.