500 Palestinians set for mass ‘fly-in’ to B-G Airport

Pro-Palestinian activists planning to send hundreds living abroad on commercial flights July 8.

nakba day_311 reuters (photo credit: Sharif Karim / Reuters)
nakba day_311 reuters
(photo credit: Sharif Karim / Reuters)
In the wake of “Nakba Day,” “Naksa Day” and an anticipated Gaza-bound flotilla later this month, pro-Palestinian activists are planning to send hundreds of Palestinians living abroad on commercial flights to Ben-Gurion Airport next month in a dramatic display of solidarity.
According to a report released this week by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, an Israeli NGO, organizers believe the planned Gaza flotilla is too limited in scope, and broader action is needed to “remove the blockade from the entire land of Palestine.”
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Organizers said the “fly-in” would occur July 8, the date in 2004 that the UN’s International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion that Israel’s West Bank security fence is illegal by international law.
After holding a protest rally at the airport, the arrivals plan to travel to the West Bank to “express solidarity” with Palestinians.
Organizers said 500 people have already scheduled flights to Israel, including Palestinian families from Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa. Germany will be one of the participants’ main departure points.
Fifteen organizations are involved in the initiative, including the influential International Solidarity Movement.
The ISM is active in organizing weekly protests against the West Bank security fence at Bil’in, and in the Free Gaza Movement behind last May’s controversial flotilla.
The NGO report suggests the fly-in may be the product of rivalries between pro-Palestinian groups, and that diverting attention from the Gaza flotilla may be one of the initiative’s chief objectives.
“While we rightly focus on Gaza, we must not forget that Israeli colonial authorities are implementing their racist apartheid policies throughout historic Palestine,” organizers wrote on the website bienvenuepalestine.com.
“In the West Bank (including east Jerusalem) and in the Negev and the Galilee, ethnic cleansing and killing/injuring civilians are just some of the many violations of basic human rights.”
“Israel destroyed the only Palestinian airport, built with our money (European grants). As a result, we have no other option but to go through Israeli security, even though we don’t want to go to Israel,” organizers wrote. “We are pacifists, we will have nothing dangerous in our bags. We call on our elected representatives and our governments during the following months to ensure that we shall be normally and properly treated on our arrival in Ben Gourion [sic] airport, as are Israeli citizens when they come to our countries.”
Meanwhile, a Hamas-linked website called on Palestinian refugees and their descendants to travel to Israel on commercial flights on Saturday and Sunday as part of events commemorating the “Naksa” of Arab defeat in the Six Day War.
The fly-in is touted as part of wider rallies and marches this weekend and early next week.