PARIS – As hundreds of police officers are deployed at Ben Gurion Airport in order to prevent the entry of the “flytilla to Palestine” activists to Israel, in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport’s departures hall dozens of activists gathered on Sunday to protest their “exclusion” from Israel.
As of about 9:30 am, four activists who arrived aboard an El Al flight from Paris have been detained at BG Airport. They were immediately questioned at a booth set up by the Interior Ministry at the airport and are expected to be deported later in the day.
Some of the activists received notices alerting them to the fact that their flights to Israel had been cancelledwhile others managed to issue their boarding cards but are not sure they will be able to reach the Palestinian Authority. During the protest they called out: “Today the barrier is here” and “Israel get out, France is not yours.”
The activists in Paris sought to make it clear that they were not operating against Israel, rather they were seeking to carry out a “pacifist action” and go to Bethlehem to see the situation with their own eyes.
Protestors in Paris (Photo: Lior Zilberstein, Yedioth Ahronoth)
Meanwhile, at Ben Gurion Airport things are quiet, for now. The Airport Authority has opened a situation room to observe the situation as it unfolds and offer an immediate response.
The flytilla organizers briefed activists from around the world through social networks on methods of challenging the airports and governments and how to reach the airports with boarding cards in hand.
“The (foreign) governments must pressure Israel so that it will allow the arrival of visitors into the occupied territories. This blockade is a breach of the fourth Geneva Convention. Israel has turned Palestine into a huge prison,” they wrote.
Police deplyed at Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: Ido Erez)
The organizers noted that the Oz Unit at the Immigration Authority chose to halt its strike due to the flytilla and claimed: “Racism unites the government and its employees.”
Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel also arrived at BG Airport with an Israeli flag ahead of the expected arrival of more pro-Palestinian activists.
The fly-in activists received precise directions explaining how to act should the Israeli authorities refuse to allow them entry into Israel. The activists were told to leave a copy of their passport with a family member and to take the telephone numbers of local government officials in their countries.
The activists were also briefed on the rules and regulations at Israel’s airport in order to make it easier for them to deal with arguments against allowing them to enter Israel.
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Saturday expressed satisfaction with the cooperation of foreign airlines who he said are preventing those identified by Israel as pro-Palestinian activists from boarding their flights.
By Lior Zilberstein