Police preparing for ‘aerial flotilla’ for ‘Palestine'

Some 700 activists taking part in event backed by 40 Palestinian NGOs; police hope to prevent "provocative incident that could cause disruption."

311_airplane (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Police have completed preparations to halt a plan by some 700 pro-Palestinian activists who have purchased tickets to fly into Ben-Gurion Airport on Friday.
Police plans are based on the assumption that some activists seeking to embark on an ‘aerial flotilla’ might be able to land in Israel since their names are not on any security watch list, allowing them to evade preemptive flight bans.
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“The emphasis is on keeping Ben-Gurion Airport functioning normally, and preventing extremists from creating a provocative incident that could cause disruption,” Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“There’s a number of scenarios we’ve planned for inside the airport. We’re working to be prepared in different areas of the airport,” Rosenfeld said.
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Special patrol units will be at the airport from Friday to Sunday to provide assistance if needed.
The increased preparedness is due to go into effect from Friday and last through into the weekend, Rosenfeld added.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Israel Beiteinu) said Israel would “not allow hooligans to hold demonstrations,” referring to possible attempts by activists to land in Israel later this week.
“Israel won’t allow...hooligans to infiltrate by air,” he added. “We will not host law-breakers.” Police are holding ongoing assessments at the national headquarters in Jerusalem to evaluate the latest intelligence on what may transpire on Friday.
The activists, mostly European, are participating in an event that is supported by 40 Palestinian non-governmental groups, called “Welcome Palestine.” They are hoping they will be able to get on their flight, land in Ben-Gurion Airport and explain to the Israeli customs officials that they have come to visit “Palestine.” If they are allowed to pass through customs, they plan to spend a week in the Palestinian territories engaging in a series of solidarity activities in support of Palestinian statehood.
If they are halted before getting on their flights or are deported once they have arrived, they hope that the spectacle of authorities dealing with 700 activists will publicize the difficulties Palestinians and their supporters face with regard to freedom of movement and access in and out of the West Bank. The organizers said that their actions are not connected to the Gaza flotilla or the naval blockade of Gaza.
In the past, Israel has denied entry to international activists that it believes are planning to create disturbances while they are here.
Yaakov Lappin and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.