Israel readies for pro-Palestinian airport protest

Date: 7/4/2011

Israel was making intense preparations on Monday to foil plans by hundreds of activists to flood Israel's Ben Gurion international airport on Friday in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to coordinate all law enforcement and aviation authorities, said a statement from Netanyahu's office.

Israeli media reported that flights landing on Friday from Europe would be taken to a separate terminal and all passengers carefully screened.

"This planned provocation will be dealt with in accordance with Israeli law and international law and conventions," the statement from the premier's office said, without giving further details.

Pro–Palestinian activists have said they plan to arrive in their hundreds at Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv on July 8 to protest against Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"We have responded to a call from Palestinian associations and about 500 hundred of us, women, men and children, will leave on July 8 to show them the world hasn't forgotten them," organisers said on the website

The group is said to include about 300 French and others from Belgium, Germany, Italy and the United States.

"We are not going to hide the fact that we are coming to visit our Palestinian friends," the website remarks said.

"The Israel government has no right to refuse us entry to the occupied Palestinian territories."

The move comes as a flotilla of international activists that had planned to try and breach the blockade failed to get permission to set sail from Greece, apparently as a result of Israeli diplomatic pressure.

"Hundreds of internationals on their way to visit Palestinians in Gaza have been prevented from departing from the ports in Greece," Elsa Rassbach, one of the activists, wrote in a statement received by AFP on Sunday.

"However, we hope that hundreds of others of us from many countries will succeed in reaching Palestine by flying to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.

"Supporting our visit to Palestine will be one small step towards bringing about the freedom of movement for all the peoples of Israel/Palestine that is essential for peace and justice in the Middle East," she said.

Israel on Sunday slammed the plan.

"This planned event is a continuation of the attempts to undermine Israel's right to exist and to attempt to breach its borders and sovereignty by sea, land and by air," the statement from Netanyahu's office said.


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