Israel set to deport last pro-Palestinian activists

Israel Materials 11 July 2011 16:56 (UTC +04:00)

Israel intends to expel 81 pro- Palestinian activists in coming days who arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport last week, reported local media.

The activists are the last batch of over a hundred people who landed at Ben-Gurion as part of the "fly-in," an event led by the "Welcome Palestine" organization, Xinhua reported.

The event's organizers originally planned to fly upwards of 1, 000 international activists to Israel, in order to stage Palestinian solidarity events in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The activists, among them nationals from France, Spain and Ireland, are currently detained at "Givon," a holding facility in central Israel for illegal migrants, the Yedioth Aharonot daily reported on Monday.

Immigration officials are coordinating the deportations with foreign airlines in order to place the activists on flights to Europe.

"We hope to have all of them on flights by Tuesday," said Immigration and Population Authority (IPA) spokeswoman Sabin Hadad.

She told Xinhua that IPA officials presented the activists with the option to enter Israel pending their commitment not to disrupt public order, but only five had agreed and were granted entry.

On Sunday, 38 German and Belgian nationals who landed at Ben- Gurion on Friday were put on a Lufthansa flight after spending a day in detention.

In recent days senior Israel Police commanders expressed satisfaction in thwarting plans to create provocations at the airport, mainly violent political protests, which could have potentially embarrassed Israel.

Some 600 police officers deployed in and around the terminal well ahead of the scheduled arrival of the flights from Europe. But only 130 activists eventually landed after foreign carriers barred most from boarding flights to Israel.

Some of the extra forces will remain at Ben-Gurion throughout the week, in order to counter possible attempts by other activists to enter the country, according to the report.