The “fly-in flotilla” planned for Friday has fizzled as foreign authorities ban most anti-Israel activists from boarding flights. Police are still on alert at Ben Gurion International Airport, but so far have encountered only six protesters.
Far-left foreign activists had planned a mass event for Friday in support of the Arab world's demand that millions of descendents of Arabs who fled pre-state Israel be allowed to “return” as citizens. While some activists said they planned to enter Israel quietly and travel to Palestinian Authority-controlled regions to protest, others were planning to riot at the airport to draw attention to their cause.
Israel responded by issuing a list of 347 pro-PA activists believed to be planning disruptions, and asked airports to prohibit them from boarding flights to Israel. Airlines were given an explanation from Israel's security apparatus as to why the “fly-in” protest is seen as a threat, and were warned that passengers from the list who succeeded in reaching Israel would not be allowed to enter the country.
Fifty activists were kept off a Lufthansa flight to Israel at Charles de Gaulle Airport and in protest refused to leave the terminal, Israel Radio reported. “Charles de Gaulle Airport is under Israeli occupation,” one accused.
Another 30 were barred from a flight in Geneva.
While most on the list will not be arriving in Israel, security professionals believe that hundreds more whose names are not on the list are still planning to arrive. Officials have warned that anyone who disrupts the peace at the airport will be denied entrance to Israel and deported as quickly as possible.
Two American women were deported overnight on Thursday after arriving in the country and stating that they were participants in the “fly in” protest who had originally planned to arrive in Gaza by sea in defiance of Israel's naval blockade on Hamas.
Another four would-be protesters were turned back later in the morning.
Police warned that the main “fly-in” wave may not yet have hit. “Anything could happen,” said Police Chief Yochanan Danino.