Israeli police deployed several hundred additional officers in and around Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv to prevent possible disruptions by pro-Palestinian activists set to arrive today.
More than 1,500 activists from at least 15 countries were expected to fly into Israel this weekend to protest the government’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to an e-mailed statement from the Welcome to Palestine Campaign.
Several hundred of the protesters were prevented from boarding flights to Israel after the government provided airlines with names of passengers that wouldn’t be permitted to enter Israel, said Abdelfattah Abusrour, a spokesman for the activists.
“The airlines had no right to prevent their boarding and some of our members are considering legal action,” Abusrour said by telephone from Bethlehem.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chided the activists for choosing to protest “against Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy,” and suggested they focus instead on human rights abuses in Syria and Iran. “First solve the real problems of the region and then come back and share your experience,” Netanyahu said, according to an e-mailed statement released by his office last night.
“Israeli police will prevent any security incidents at the international airport,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said by telephone.
The activists have no intention of creating disturbances at Ben Gurion and only wish to take part in peaceful protests against Israeli policies, said Abusrour. “The intelligent thing that Israel can do is to allow these people to reach their buses and come to Bethlehem,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at firstname.lastname@example.org
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