A coordinator of a mass fly-in of pro-Palestinian activists into Israel’s main airport says airlines have canceled flights for at least 100 people.
Amira Musallam said Saturday that activists notified her via email that Lufthansa, EasyJet and Air France canceled the flight reservations of some suspected activists. Israel Radio reported that British Airways has done the same.
Musallam says she still expects hundreds to arrive, beginning Saturday evening and continuing through Sunday.
The “Welcome to Palestine” project seeks to raise attention to how Israel controls access into Palestinian areas. Unless travelers give false information about their intention to visit such places, they risk being detained and questioned, sometimes for hours.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich has called the activists “provocateurs” and said they are bent on disturbing the public order.
Israel reportedly sent no-fly lists to foreign airlines and warned them to bar persona non grata or foot the bill for deporting them.
Israel has been jittery about large influxes of foreign activists since a naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May 2010 turned deadly. The Israeli navy and the pro-Palestinian activists have each accused each other of sparking the bloodshed in which nine Turkish activists were killed.
Last July, Israel blocked an effort similar to the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign. It beefed up security at the airport, questioned dozens of activists upon arrival at the airport and denied entry to 69.
This weekend Israel says it will round up activists who land in the country and deport them.
Israel has also compiled a list of activists it suspects have booked flights to Israel for the campaign, and has warned airlines they would have to fly those passengers back to their cities of origin if they were allowed on flights to Israel. During last year’s fly-in, many airlines barred blacklisted activists from flying to Israel.