"Flight France-Palestine," 2011. (Image: DOM)
Three European airlines have canceled the flights of passengers from the Airflotilla2, or flytilla, the campaign in which activists challenge Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories by flying into Tel Aviv and announcing to customs their intent to travel to the West Bank. The campaign started last year with a similar "Welcome to Palestine" fly-in, where some were also refused entry onto their purchased departure flights, at the behest of Israeli security.
Again, this year based on "Israel's orders," Lufthansa Airlines, Brussels Airlines and EasyJet all have canceled flytilla passenger tickets. As of today, European airlines have canceled up to 40 passenger tickets.
Campaign organizers with Bienvenue Palestine also found the tickets of two passengers unaffiliated with the flytilla were included in the mass cancellations.
Screen shot of organizer flytilla organizer, the Bienvenue Palestine campaign. Tweet on the bottom translates: "@Lufthansa @FlyingBrussels @Jet2Offers prefer to support Israeli apartheid in lieu of their humanitarian clients. "
After arriving in-country, activists are expected to tour the West Bank with Bienvenue Palestine. I translated from French Bienvenue Palestine’s full statement on flight cancellations:
Several dozen passengers who bought plane tickets to travel to Tel Aviv Sunday, April 15 were notified Thursday by Lufthansa airlines that their reservations were canceled, "by Israel's orders."
"Israel produced a list of names of persons to whom this country denies entry. Yours is on it, which brings us to cancel your ticket and we will immediately refund your credit card," said Lufthansa employees to the passengers.
Unable to distinguish between those who intended to participate in the Welcome to Palestine mission and those who were not involved, the Israeli government, long accustomed to mass "collateral damage," apparently decided to blacklist passengers in bulk. As of Thursday evening we had reports of at least two people who are not connected to the campaign and were planning to travel to Israel whose tickets were also canceled.
Passengers on Lufthansa flights have not committed any infractions, and do not accept the mafia-methods, favored by governments complicit in the imprisonment of the Palestinian people, starting with the French government.
Therefore, with the support of many friends, passengers with the campaign will arrive at their departing airports as scheduled this weekend, as a reminder that the West Bank and the rest of Palestine do not belong to Israel, and to demand respect of international law.
Passengers also received cancellation notices from the other European airlines, stating "Israel Immigration Authorities have informed us that you will be refused entry to Israel and instructed us to refuse you carriage." Bienvenue Palestine posted the text of the notices. Below is one from EasyJet:
We regret to inform you that Israel Immigration Authorities have informed us that you will be refused entry to Israel and instructed us to refuse you carriage. We have therefore had no choice but to cancel your reservation on easyJet flight to Tel Aviv on 15/04/2012. You will receive a full refund of your booking….
Please do not go to the airport as the Israeli Immigration Authorities have instructed us to refuse you carriage.
If you require further information relating to the refusal of travel may we suggest that you make contact with the Israeli Embassy in Bern. Their contact details are noted below for your information.
Embassy of Israel
Phone number : +41(0)31 356 35 00 – Fax : +41(0)31 356 35 65
We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause you and please be assured we are working under the instruction of the Israeli Immigration Authorities and will be unable to accept you for travel until so advised by the authorities.
easyJet Customer Services
The notices indicate airlines received a master "back list" from Israeli authorities, which was used to select the passengers that were kept from boarding flights. Though the methods used to compile the list are unclear, yesterday Ynet News confirmed Israeli border security did send airlines companies both a passenger black list, along with a letter advising the companies to bar those listed from boarding their flights.