April 10, 2012
Israel preparing for protest ‘fly-in’
Up to 2,500 people are expected to arrive in Israel on what is being called a “fly-in” protest.
Part of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, the activists from around the world plan to arrive Sunday and declare their intention to travel to the West Bank to highlight the fact that there is no way to visit what they call Palestine without traveling through Israel.
The group says it plans to travel to Bethlehem and lay a cornerstone for an educational institution.
“There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points,” reads a statement on the Welcome to Palestine campaign’s website. “Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors.”
The statement calls on governments to support the right of Palestinians to receive visitors and the right of their own citizens to visit Palestine openly.” It was signed by well-known pro-Palestinian activists such as South African Bishop Despond Tutu, U.S. philosopher Noam Chomsky and Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti.
Sunday, the day after Passover ends, is one of Ben Gurion Airport’s busiest flying days.
In July 2011, some 300 activists flew to Israel for a protest fly-in. About 120 were detained.
Israeli media have quoted Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch as saying that security forces are prepared for the fly-in.
Activists in Europe and the United States are expected to be prevented from boarding planes to Israel, according to reports. Activists that do arrive in Israel will be held and put on a plane out of the country.