Pro-Palestinian activists to hold second 'fly-in'

Organizers say they expect 1,500- 2,000 people to arrive in Ben-Gurion Airport to protest Israeli policy vis-a-vis Palestinians.

Israelis at airport 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Israelis at airport 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Pro-Palestinian activists plan to hold their second fly-in to Ben-Gurion International Airport just after Passover at staggered times on April 15 and 16.
According to one of the organizers, Mazin Qumsiyeh of Bethlehem, anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 participants, ages 9 to 90, from 15 countries are expected to land in Israel on that day.
If they are allowed to enter the country, they will participate in a week of educational and volunteer activities in the West Bank, Qumsiyeh said.
Last summer in an event labeled “Welcome to Palestine” activists also tried to board planes and land in Ben-Gurion in solidarity with the Palestinians and to protest Israel’s policy of banning such foreign activists.
Some 124 activists were detained upon arrival in Israel and deported. Hundreds more were barred, mostly in Europe, from getting on airplanes to Ben-Gurion after Israel passed on their names to the airlines.
“The point is to show the world that Israel is preventing people from visiting Palestine,” said Qumsiyeh who is a professor at Bethlehem University.
“By entering Palestine through Ben-Gurion airport, hundreds of people over 48 hours will send a message that we want Israel to recognize the basic human right ... of those who want to visit us,” he said.
“We call on our elected representatives and our government to ensure that we shall be normally and properly treated on our arrival in Ben- Gurion airport, as are Israeli citizens when they come to our countries,” he said.
On Tuesday Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said that Israel was working with other governments and foreign airlines to identify activists and stop them from boarding planes.
But Qumsiyeh told The Jerusalem Post that after last summer’s event, judges in France and Germany told the airlines they could not collectively bar people from boarding planes.
“I think that this year they will be able to get on the planes,” he said. “The question is, what will Israel do when they land,” he said.
“I think that Israel should just let them in. They are not coming to protest. They are coming to see the situation for themselves and to experience what Palestinians experience,” he said.