Israel to ‘flytilla’ activists: Protest real problems like those in Syria, Iran
Police beef up airport presence in anticipation of pro-Palestinians’ arrival; official letter wishes them a pleasant journey home
Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.
The thousand “flytilla” participants expected to arrive in Israel Saturday night and Sunday will be greeted by a large police presence and an official letter telling them to “go to Syria and Iran.”
“First solve the real problems in the region,” like the situations in Syria, Iran and Gaza, the letter reads, “and then come back to Israel to share your experience with us.”
Members of the Prime Minister Office’s PR department will distribute the letter to protesters on arrival. It declaims them for choosing to “protest against Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, where there is equality for women, a press critical of the government; where human rights organizations are free to act, everyone enjoys freedom of worship, and minorities do not live in fear.”
The letter also wishes the ‘flytilla’ participants a pleasant flight, before they are deported back to their home countries.
Israeli authorities distributed a blacklist of undesirables to various airlines earlier this week, requesting that the listed activists be prevented from flying to Israel. They warned airlines that any activists who make it to the country will be deported at the airline carrier’s expense.
An estimated 650 police personnel are being deployed at the airport. Flights believed to be carrying activists may be diverted to land at the airport’s smaller terminal, media reports said. Police are also reportedly concerned that Israeli left-wing activists may stage protests at the airport.
Earlier on Saturday, several European airlines canceled pro-Palestinian activists’ flights to Israel in advance of Sunday’s stand-off in Ben Gurion airport.
Kadima Knesset member Nachman Shai on Saturday accused the government of making far too much of a fuss about the activists’ arrival. He said the major security operation was exaggerated and was merely giving further publicity to the activists.