Thirty-eight 'Flightilla' activists deported to Europe

Remainder of pro-Palestinian activists being detained are expected to be put on flights in the near future.

July 11, 2011 01:46
2 minute read.
Police at Ben Gurion Airport [file]

Police at Ben Gurion Airport 311 (R). (photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)


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Thirty-eight foreign pro-Palestinian activists were deported on Sunday evening.

They had been held in prison since they arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Friday planning to participate in a mass fly-in in support of Palestinian statehood.

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Thirty-five of the activists were put on a Lufthansa flight to Germany and one was placed on a Alitalia flight on their way to Spain.

Another two activists were sent to Belgium late on Saturday night and four were released after they signed papers promising not to participate in provocative actions against Israel while in the country.

As of Sunday night, 82 activists were still in Israeli prisons awaiting deportation.

The Interior Ministry said they would likely be sent home in the next few days.

Some activists who were able to make it through passport control at Ben-Gurion on Friday, along with Palestinians and other foreigners, gathered in Bethlehem on Sunday for the start of a week of protests.

Friday’s flights, dubbed the “Flightilla,” along with the protests, are part of the Welcome to Palestine initiative organized by 40 non-governmental groups.

In Bethlehem, the activists gathered around noon at a section of the West Bank security barrier that separates the Palestinian Authority-controlled city from Jerusalem.

For several minutes, they pounded in unison on a steel gate in the barrier with their fists, asking that it be opened. One woman used a stick.

They shouted, “Free Palestine” and “Shame on you!” at the soldiers in the guard tower above, who peered out from the windows to see what was going on.

“We are here today to make sure that this city will remain Palestinian,” Canadian activist Riso al-Tamini, whose family is originally from Iraq, told her fellow protesters. “This is global cause, a democratic cause and a peace cause,” she said, reading from a prepared text on her cellphone.

“It is time for the whole world to come here and to demand that the apartheid stop,” Tamini said.

On Monday, protesters will gather in Nablus and Jenin. On Tuesday, they will be in Hebron, and later in the week they will demonstrate in Jerusalem.

Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.

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