Israel gears up for 'flytilla'

April 10, 2012 at 7:49 AM
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JERUSALEM, April 10 (UPI) -- Israeli police this week prepared to deal with hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists planning to land en masse at Ben Gurion Airport, officials said.

The organization "Welcome to Palestine 2012" called on activists worldwide to enter Israel Sunday to protest Israel's policies in the West Bank and to visit the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Justice Network said 1,500 people from more than 15 countries were scheduled to arrive. Activists have dubbed the event "flytilla" -- a play on "flotilla," which was used to describe efforts by activists to break the Gaza blockade.

Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told the Channel 1 television network Monday Israel plans to send lists of names to foreign airports and hopes many of the activists will be prevented from boarding planes in their home countries.

"'Welcome to Palestine 2012' will again challenge Israel's policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenseless Palestinian civilian population," a statement issued by the organization said.

"There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points. Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors. We call on governments to support the right of Palestinians to receive visitors and the right of their own citizens to visit Palestine openly."

Among those who signed the statement were Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, former South African politician Ronnie Kasrils and linguist Noam Chomsky.

Last July some 124 activists from Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands and the United States were arrested on arrival in Israel and deported.

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