At least 27 pro-Palestinian activists who arrived in Israel for a "fly-in" protest were detained at Ben Gurion Airport.
The activists who arrived Sunday from at least four countries are part of the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign in which activists declare their intention to travel to the West Bank to highlight that there is no way to visit what they call Palestine without traveling through Israel.
Four of the activists taken into custody Sunday morning arrived from Paris; four others arrived from Switzerland. A Canadian national flew to Israel from the United States and a Portuguese national arrived from Jordan, according to Haaretz. Some 15 activists from Paris had been detained at the airport as of 2 p.m., Ynet reported.
The group says it plans to travel to Bethlehem and lay a cornerstone for an educational institution. The campaign has said it expected up to 2,500 activists to attempt to make it to Israel.
Several airlines, including Lufthansa, Air France and Easyjet, canceled the flights of known activists before they could leave from their points of origin. Israel had requested that airlines prevent activists from boarding flights. In addition, if fliers are turned away from Israel and put on a flight back to their point of origin, the airline must absorb the cost of the return flight.
More than 600 unarmed policemen were stationed at Ben Gurion Airport to intercept the activists who arrive in Israel unchallenged, according to Israel Radio.
Several dozen pro-Palestinian activists protested Sunday morning at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, saying that authorities prevented about 100 activists from boarding a flight bound for Israel.
Dozens of activists reportedly also protested at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after being denied entry to their flights to Israel. The protesters chanted "Today the barrier is here" and "Israel get out, France is not yours."
Sunday, the day after Passover ends, is one of Ben Gurion Airport's busiest flying days.
Activists who manage to arrive in Israel will receive a sarcastic letter issued by the Prime Minister's Office thanking them for "choosing to make Israel the object of your humanitarian choices" instead of protesting human rights abuses and terrorists in Syria, Iran and Gaza, according to The Jerusalem Post, which printed a copy of the letter.
The letter suggests to the activists that they "first solve the real problems of the region, and then come back and share with us your experience." It also tells them to "Have a nice flight."
Last July, some 300 activists flew to Israel for a protest fly-in. About 120 were detained.
ADD YOUR COMMENT
The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.