'Air flotilla' activists clash with IDF in West Bank'

Organizers claim that pro-Palestinian activists who managed to pass border control at Ben-Gurion Airport gather in Nabi Saleh along with local Palestinians; IDF uses tear gas to disperse protesters.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
July 9, 2011 15:09
2 minute read.
Israeli activists protest at B-G airport, Friday.

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

 
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Pro-Palestinian activists that managed to pass border control at Ben-Gurion Airport as part of the "air flotilla" arrived in the West Bank on Saturday and clashed with security forces in Nabi Saleh, organizers claimed.

The incident began when a group of settlers, accompanied by security forces, went to a local spring in the area. Over 150 protesters, including those that took part in the "air flotilla," gathered at the scene, the organizers said. IDF soldiers reacted by firing tear gas in an attempt to disperse the protesters.

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On Saturday morning, thirty nine pro-Palestinian activists that arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport were refused entry to the country and were taken to Ela Prison in Beersheba for questioning .

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


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

Police on Friday said that 69 activists had 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."

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

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