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EasyJet plane moments after landing
Photo: Ben Kelmer
Activists in Ben-Gurion
Photo: Ben Kelmer
Israeli activists waiting for passengers
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Dozens of activists detained at airport
Security forces detain over 300 tourists for questioning at Ben-Gurion Airport; 85 to be deported

Fly-in continues – Over 300 tourists who landed on Friday in Israel were taken in for questioning by the Interior Ministry's Population Immigration and Border Control authority, after being suspected of involvement in the pro-Palestinian Gaza fly-in.

 

So far, a total of 85 activists from Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Holland and the United States were denied entry into Israel and will be deported back to their countries on the earliest flight available. Four have already been deported and the others have been transferred to detention facilities until their departure, scheduled for the weekend. 

 

 

Meanwhile, several Israeli activists were arrested at the arrivals hall, after protesting in support of the "flytilla."

 

Matan Cohen, one of the leftists detained for questioning, told Ynet: "We saw the hysterical response of the State of Israel, which treats peace activists like terrorists.

 

"If standing with signs reading 'welcome' in the terminal is sufficient pretext for the police to arrest us, then every Israeli citizen should be worried," he said, adding that "what happened today is the silencing of non-violent democratic protest."

 

Another detained activist, Inbal Sinai, said, "We wanted to greet our friends from all over the world, who support the struggle for equality and freedom. All we did was wave signs in different languages, but the minute we pulled them out, the police stormed us."

 

Sinai slammed the government, saying "they reacted with the usual paranoia. We wanted (the activists) to know that there are people in Israel who are happy to receive them. Israel's paranoid reaction played straight into our hands."

 

Following the detention of the activists, EasyJet Airlines officials said that the passengers onboard their flight who were taken in for questioning at Ben-Gurion Airport were not included in the list of passengers that are denied entry into Israel.

 

Some 40 passengers were not allowed to board the flight from Geneva, after their name appeared on the list, which the airline received from Israeli security authorities.

 

More to come?

Meanwhile, security officials fear that due to a technical malfunction, more activist might be making their way from Germany to Israel. A Lufthansa flight that was scheduled to leave Friday morning from Frankfurt to Israel was delayed twice due to a malfunction in the plane's front wheels.

 

As of now, it is slated to take-off around 11pm on Friday night.

 

EasyJet flight lands in Israel

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The flight was first delayed due to a technical problem detected in the aircraft's front wheels, but later it was decided to switch planes and the flight was delayed again.

 

On Friday morning, Lufthansa prevented some 50 pro-Palestinian activists from boarding the flight, at the behest of Israel.

 

Hadas Calderon, an Israeli actress who was onboard the flight, told Ynet: "At first the pilot braked strongly, and then the plane's wheels caught fire. They decided to put us on another plane but there was no space in the terminal."

 

Ronen Medzini, Yoav Zitun, Boaz Fyler and Omri Efraim contributed to this report

 

 


First published: 08.07.11, 18:51
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