Israel detains dozens of pro-Palestinian 'fly-in' activists at airport


Right wing Israeli activists demonstrate against the "Welcome to Palestine" fly-in protest on April 15, 2012 at the Ben Gurion Air Port near Tel Aviv, Israel.


Uriel Sinai

Israel detained dozens of international activists on Sunday as they arrived at the country's main airport, preventing them from participating in an organized pro-Palestinian demonstration in the West Bank, the Associated Press reported.

The West Bank is about an hour's drive from Tel Aviv airport.

Israel said the "fly-in" activists, were part of an umbrella group called "Welcome to Palestine," and posed a security threat. But organizers accused Israel of using heavy-handed tactics and the event was meant to draw attention to Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinians.

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Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that 45 people had been refused entry at Ben Gurion airport by the evening and would be deported.

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said the government "will make sure that everyone who wants to provoke is returned home and the rest will be allowed to enter Israel," wrote the AP.

Reuters reports Israel distributed "no-fly" lists to European airlines, the point of origin for many of the passengers, and deployed hundreds of police at Ben Gurion airport.

At least 49 people had been stopped at the airport, most coming from France. The rest departed from Spain, Switzerland, Canada, Italy and Portugal. At least 12 were placed on flights home, the rest were reportedly on their way back.

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