activists at airport 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Tight security and a horde of foreign press was the scene at Ben Gurion Airport's Terminal 1 on Wednesday afternoon, as the deportation of passengers taken into custody during Monday’s IDF naval raid moved into its final stages.
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Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabin Hadad confirmed that more than 500 of the detainees, among them 204 Turks, were undergoing final security checks before boarding flights at BGA on Wednesday afternoon, and that others had already left the country.
As the process unfolded, dozens of television crews, among them Spanish, Dutch and Australian reporters, waited in the heat outside an entry gate to the terminal in an effort to catch a glimpse of the buses – en route from Ela prison in Beersheba – filled with detainees who were to be flown to Istanbul later Wednesday evening and from there to their home countries.
As the buses approached, reporters scrambled for shots of the arrival, and many detainees inside stuck their hands out the bus windows forming their fingers into victory signs.
After entering the terminal however, airport security restricted all contact between the detainees and the press.
According to Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld, an assortment of government agencies, among them the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry's Immigration and Population Authority, police and the prisons services, had all coordinated with one another to take part in the massive effort.
Rosenfeld added that all of the detainees had undergone medical and security checks at the prison before being bused to BGA, and would undergo additional security checks before boarding their flights out of the country.
Earlier on Wednesday, 124 activists from 12 Muslim nations — most of them without diplomatic ties with Israel — had crossed the Allenby Bridge aboard five Jordanian buses.
Jordanian government spokesman Nabil Al-Sharif said there were 30 Jordanians in the group.
The bridge’s commander on the Jordanian side, Brig. Mahmoud Abu Jumaa,
said Jordan would help repatriate the activists – who include lawmakers
and journalists – to their respective countries in coordination with
Kuwaiti ambassador Sheik Faisal Al Sabah said there were 16 Kuwaitis
aboard the buses. "They will be flown home aboard a Kuwaiti
government-chartered plane later Wednesday," Al Sabah said.
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Hadad added that the other activists
among that group had come from Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Pakistan, Algeria, Syria, Morocco, Mauritania, Yemen, Oman and Bahrain.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decided that Israel would
not prosecute or continue to hold those detained after the IDF raid on
the Gaza-bound flotilla.
The entire deportation process was expected to take about 48 hours.
Detainees refusing to return to their countries will be brought before a court of law which will decide whether to deport them.Jerusalem Post Staff and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report