The Israeli occupation authorities have arrested a number of foreign nationals who arrived at Ben Gurion Airport to take part in solidarity events in the occupied West Bank. The Europeans were arrested when they arrived on Sunday from airports across Europe, despite attempts by Israel to block the airlines from carrying them.
Anticipating many more “Flytilla” activists, the occupation authorities put its security forces at the airport on high alert. About 650 police officers, dozens prison officers and guards from “Auze unit”, which is affiliated with the Israeli interior ministry, were deployed in Ben Gurion airport in order to prevent activists from entering the country. Some were in plain clothes amongst the airport crowds.
The Hebrew newspaper Maariv quoted one of the organisers of the mass influx of pro-Palestinian activists – dubbed “Flytilla” after the maritime flotilla efforts to break Israel’s siege of Gaza: “There has been an ugly and nasty Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1948 and there are many abuses and crimes against humanity, and whoever thinks that they can win by this way is deluding themselves.”
The European activist noted that individual passengers had received instructions from the Israeli authorities warning them not to take part in any form of violence or violent protest. “These people are peace activists who are in solidarity with the Palestinians, and they came to participate in the events of opening schools and kindergartens and to see for themselves the daily abuses experienced by the Palestinians who have been under occupation for decades, so what does Israel do? It arrests them because they ‘pose a threat’ to Israeli security.”
A number of European airlines cancelled activists’ tickets when told to do so by the Israeli authorities. When they arrived at the airport for their flights, they were not allowed to check-in.