More than 100 activists, primarily from Europe and North America, arrived in Jordan on Friday and hoped to enter the West Bank on Sunday by way of the Allenby Bridge crossing.
This will be the third time in the past year that activists wishing to show solidarity with the Palestinians, whom they see as living under Israeli occupation, will attempt to enter Palestinian Authority areas. In July 2011 and in April 2012 the activists organized “flytillas,” an intended mass fly-in protest to Ben Gurion Airport.
In both attempts, Israel denied entry visas to the activists, and while a handful did manage to enter Israel, the majority were detained at the airport, briefly imprisoned and sent back to their home countries.
French activist Olivia Zamor said Israel has no reason to prevent their entry. “In previous times, they said we were a security threat to Tel Aviv. We accepted what they said when they told us to go through Allenby or Rafah crossings,” she told AFP.
The activists said that participants ranging in age from young children to people in their 80s are all a part of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, which they said was mounted at the behest of Bethlehem governor Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, who invited the group to bring stationery supplies for Palestinian school children.
“We are a group of peaceful people and we are quite sure we will pass this time,” said Zamor. “We are supporting Palestinian rights and if Israel says no to us, it cannot call itself a democratic country.”
Zamor told Israel Hayom that some 80 percent of the activists for the current mission have never been to West Bank. She said that the focus of the visit will be education, with the group primarily visiting families and schools.
Zamor said that the participants came from several countries, including France, the UK, the US, Belgium and Switzerland.
The Allenby Bridge Crossing, also known as the King Hussein Bridge, is located approximately 5 km (3 miles) east of the West Bank city of Jericho. It is jointly operated by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority and serves as the primary passenger and cargo terminal in the West Bank.