More than forty pro-Palestinian activists who arrived in Israel on Sunday, April 15 as part of the “Welcome to Palestine” fly-in protest have been denied entry to the country. The activists from Britain, France, Italy and Canada were questioned by Immigration Authority officials and deported.
Two of the protesters, whose sponsors condemned Israel as racist, scrawled a swastika on the wall of a detention room at Ben Gurion Airport where they were being held until deportation.
“This was the gift the ‘peace activists’ left Israel,” a source at the Immigration Authority was quoted as saying on the Israellycool website.
The Immigration Authority said that the activists who were flown back to the home countries would be barred from returning to Israel for five years.
Earlier, dozens of activists gathered at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport to protest their “exclusion” from Israel. Some of the foreign activists received notices alerting them to the fact that their flights to Israel had been cancelled while others managed to issue their boarding cards but are not sure they will be able to reach the Palestinian Authority.
French organizers of the fly-in condemned Israel and Air France for their racism. On their website, the organizers claim that one female passenger was not allowed to depart from France simply because she was neither Jewish nor Israeli.
“Only Jews or Israeli citizens were allowed to fly and a young passenger who replied negatively to both questions was grounded,” the message said.
The flytilla organizers briefed activists 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. … Israel has turned Palestine into a huge prison.” Noting that the Israeli Immigration Authority’s Oz Unit chose to halt its strike due to the flytilla, the website siad: “Racism unites the government and its employees.”
Upon their arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, the protesters were presented with the following “welcome” letter from the Israeli government:
We appreciate your choosing to make Israel the object of our humanitarian concerns.
We know there were many other worthy choices.
You could have chosen to protest the Syrian regime’s daily savagery against its own people, which has claimed thousands of lives.
You could have chosen to protest the Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and support of terrorism throughout the world.
You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double war crime by firing rockets at civilians and hiding behind civilians.
But instead you chose to protest against Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy, where women are equal, the press criticizes the government, human rights organizations can operate freely, religious freedom is protected for all and minorities do not live in fear.
We therefore suggest that you first solve the real problems of the region, and then come back and share with us your experience.
Have a nice flight.