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Israel mobilizes special forces to deport ‘flytilla’ activists

on 33 Comments
ben gurion airport
(Cartoon: Carlos Latuff)

This Sunday, the Airflotilla2, or “flytilla,” organizers expect around 1,500 international activists to fly into Ben-Gurion airport in order to draw attention to Israel’s abuses to the Palestinian people. As the third action of this kind approaches, Haaretz reports Israeli authorities are planning to deploy “hundreds of police and special forces,” to immediately deport the activists. Organizers of the Airfoltilla2 maintain they will continue with the demonstration and subsequent “Welcome to Palestine,” week-long program of activities in the West Bank. “They have the right to enter Palestine. It’s not up to Israel to forbid anybody from coming into Palestine,” said Abdelfattah Abusrour , a Palestinian fly-in coordinator. During their visit to the West Bank, activists will meet with Palestinian organizers in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Hebron and Ramallah.

The AirFlofilla2 is an expensive direct action. Activists from around the world will board planes headed for Tel Aviv and when they arrive, they intend to inform airport security of their plans to enter the West Bank. Generally, announcing intent to enter the occupied Palestinian territories is grounds for deportation, though not an official Israeli policy. After last year’s fytilla, when two activists from Australia and New Zealand were denied entry they petitioned the order. However, the Israeli court did not accept the case, and 24-hour visas were then issued for the two activists. That case, and this year’s flytilla raises the legal question, can Israel deport travels for visiting the West Bank?

Anyone who has visited the occupied Palestinian territories understands the only way in is through an Israeli controlled boarder. And travelers know, divulging to the authorities plans to enter the West Bank or Gaza, even when obvious is risky, and often will lead to a denial of entry. Last summer, around 130 internationals who flew into Tel Aviv were imprisoned, and Israeli officials also promptly deported 36 activists. An additional 200 were expected to fly-in, however, they were barred from boarding flights to Israel in their home countries. The Airflotilla2 activists are challenging this de facto embargo placed upon the Palestinian territories.

Screen shot 2012 04 12 at 2 54 45 PM
Screen shot from the ligue defense juive (Jewish Defense League). Trans. from French: “The Jewish Defense League is organizing a welcome party for the anti-Semitic thugs who wish to travel to Israel mid-April. People wanting to participate in this warm welcome are requested to contact us.”

Activists also face challenges in their home countries. France’s Jewish Defense League (JDL) announced two days ago plans to thwart the fly-in at the departing airport. Their website ominously calls for a  “welcome party for anti-Semitic thugs who wish to travel to Israel.” In the comment section of the post, one individual notes the JDL will meet at “terminal 1” show the flytilla activists “Israeli hospitality.”

Screen shot 2012 04 12 at 3 02 55 PM
Comment from the Jewish Defense League “warm welcome” post. Trans. from French: They must  know Israeli hospitality !! Terminal 1 friends, sensitive flights (i.e., with Islamo-Nazis inside) we will be diverted to Terminal 1.”

For updates on Twitter follow @AirFlotilla2.


Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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33 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    April 12, 2012, 6:58 pm

    One R/T airfare to Israel seems an expensive way to protest. Let’s hope it is all widely reported. Israel has (properly) rejected violent protest and now rejects peaceable protest. To the question “Where is the Jewish de Klerk” Israel’s answer seems to be, “Until the nations object to our horrible behavior we will make it even more horrible.”

    Israel seems to play into the hands of the peaceable protesters, never seeming to have imagined the answer, “Come in! Protest to your heart’s content. We have no objection. And we will offer no violence or opposition to you, so your protest will amount to nothing after all. We regard you as normal tourists. Thanks for coming to our country! [OPT!].”

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      April 13, 2012, 2:46 am

      @ pabelmont

      How anyone can claim to be democratic and stifle any and all free speech one doesn’t like or even bans, is beyond me.

      side note: to be fair, I also think free speech zones are ridiculous.

      • Pixel
        April 13, 2012, 8:53 am

        “to be fair, I also think free speech zones are ridiculous.”

        More to the point, they’re unconstitutional.

      • LanceThruster
        April 16, 2012, 12:12 pm


  2. CTuttle
    April 12, 2012, 7:19 pm

    A recent tweet…

    Confirmed: Lufthansa is informing all those flying from French airports to Tel Aviv that tickets cancelled by order of Israel. @airflotilla2

    • Daniel Rich
      Daniel Rich
      April 13, 2012, 2:52 am

      If what CTuttle says is confirmed to be true, please take some time and complain here @

      Thank you.

    • Erasmus
      April 13, 2012, 10:24 am

      re Lufthansa cancellation of tickets of all tickets of all persons glying from French Airports to Tel Aviv.

      Can you also furnish an official LH website substantiating your information, please?

      No information can be found (so far) on the lufthansa. com official website of the airline.
      However, if you google for “Lufthansa Frankfurt”, you can find prominently in the first result-page, an information by a dubious source which is administered by a more dubious “Christlicher Medienverbund KEP e.V.” (= Christian Media Connection KEP) with the status of a registered association. See:

      This website headlines “No Lufthansa-Tickets for pro-palestinian Activists” and continues
      Lufthansa has cancelled flights to Tel Aviv of dozens of pro-palestinian activists. They intended to take part on Sunday in the protest campaign Welcome to Palestine……

      I wonder about the reliability / authenticity of the above info……
      Tome it smacks of a targeted desinformation effort……?

      • CigarGod
        April 13, 2012, 11:18 am

        You might try to book a flight…as a way to verify….

      • Erasmus
        April 13, 2012, 2:26 pm

        i did try (and again) : there had been neither any special information for travelers nor any problem to book thru.

        However, CTuttle has not yet been able / found the time to provide the requested link……… it seems.

      • CTuttle
        April 13, 2012, 4:21 pm

        My humble apologies for not responding sooner, Erasmus…

        From PNN… Flytilla: Lufthansa Violates International Law…

      • Daniel Rich
        Daniel Rich
        April 13, 2012, 7:31 pm

        I have sent the following message to Lufthansa [feel free to copy and paste it]

        Dear Sir or Madam,

        In light of your cancellation of legitimate flights booked by individuals who are neither listed terrorists or convicted criminals, on behalf of the Israeli government, the international community hereby asks you to halt all flights to and from the apartheid state Israel.

        The international community has taken note of your actions and shall and will act accordingly.

        Most cordially,

        Daniel Rich

      • Mayhem
        April 13, 2012, 8:27 pm

        These plaintive appeals to international law as though it is the forthright opponent of all evil. So sickening. We know the law is an ass and international law is one gigantic ass. The original source of this wisdom from Charles Dickens stated:
        “If the law supposes that … the law is a [sic] ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience—by experience.”

  3. radii
    April 12, 2012, 7:29 pm

    the protesters should wear helmets as their heads will be prime targets for close-range tear-gas canisters fired at them and clubs to the skull too … of course, the protesters are non-violent, but the desperate regime in israel is panicking that they can no longer control the messaging and can’t contain the growing protests against their anachronistic failed state and will beat the protesters because, hey, that’s what thug regimes do

  4. pabelmont
    April 12, 2012, 7:32 pm

    Elsewhere: Bahrain, a sterling democracy, protected by the good ole boys of the US of A) (news from CCR — center for constitutional rights)

    • Walid
      April 13, 2012, 4:16 am

      “… The government said last week it denied visas to some journalists because of an overflow of visa requests.”

      Why the fuss, pabelmont; Bernie Ecclestone just declared that there’s absolutely nothing wrong happening in Bahrain therefore safe to have the Bahrain Grand Prix next week. Not enough visas to go around for both political and sports journalists.

      From the Daily Mail:

      “… Despite pictures of violence and riots in Bahrain, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has staggeringly claimed there is nothing wrong.

      The 81-year-old said: ‘All the teams are happy to be there. There’s nothing happening. I know people who live there and it’s all very quiet and peaceful.’

      Read more:

  5. Walid
    April 12, 2012, 9:21 pm

    The French JDL sickos are back in the news; 6 months back, they ran ads to hire miltary veteran thugs to protect Israeli settlers. Now they’re running ads to attract shit disturbing thugs for the air flotillas departing from French airports. From Haaretz in Sept 2011:

    “French JDL recruiting Jews with military experience to ‘defend’ Israeli settlements

    Rightist group, founded by late Rabbi Meir Kahane, is bringing volunteers to counter Palestinian marches on settlements planned for week of September 20.

    By Danna Harman

    An extreme right-wing Jewish group in France is recruiting Jews with military experience for a solidarity mission to Israel in order to help “defend” Jewish settlements in the West Bank from Palestinian protesters who are expected to march toward some of them on or around September 20.

    The organization that put out the call for militant Jews is the French branch of the Jewish Defense League, or Kach, an organization established by Meir Kahane in the late 1960s and banned in the United States and Israel, but tolerated in France.”

  6. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    April 12, 2012, 11:28 pm

    Israel can deport anybody and anything it wants, but she’ll never be able to deport the truth.

  7. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich
    April 12, 2012, 11:34 pm

    Three typos:

    … will board plans … should be … will board planes … [2nd paragraph]
    … fytilla … should be … flytilla [2nd paragraph]
    … Israeli controlled boarder… should be … Israeli controlled border… [3rd paragraph]

    • Sumud
      April 17, 2012, 4:51 am

      Five actually:

      … Airfoltilla2 … should be … Airflotilla2 … [1st para]
      … AirFlofilla2 … should be … Airflotilla2 … [2st para]

      I wouldn’t normally comment on typos, but that quantity is not professional. Fire your editor Allison :-)

      • annie
        April 17, 2012, 12:22 pm

        i just thought i would chime in here to give a shout out to allison for writing some of the most current (very), informative, crucial articles on this site. this story was published on the 12th, totally off my radar at that time. allison was on top of it. also, phil and adam are the ones who publish and occasionally (not often) things get published before they are finished. that’s happened to me before.

      • Sumud
        April 18, 2012, 3:14 am

        With you 100% Annie – I love Allison’s articles; interesting and original and very informative.

        It’s a quality control issue and time is of the essence I know, and you’re all in different locations etc. but it just doesn’t look good for MW to have something up with so many errors. I put a smiley face in my comment because I didn’t want it to be construed as snarky…

  8. Charon
    April 13, 2012, 1:36 am

    Sounds like the JDL is making threats. The JDL are a terrorist organization in the USA. Not in Canada though, they’re very active in Toronto. I’ve read that a disproportionate amount of pro-Israel Hasbara comments originate from Toronto-based IP addresses.

    Here is hoping the activists will be safe, even if they are taken into custody. I wouldn’t put anything past the JDL thugs.

  9. talknic
    April 13, 2012, 3:10 am

    Israel has it’s brain in backwards. The notion of the activists is to draw attention to the issue. By attempting to stop them, Israel helps their cause. It’s so simple, so obvious.

    But Israel’s leaders go right ahead and the issue is promoted far beyond where it would have been were they to do a normal security check and allow them on their way.

    Stupidity reigns supreme in Israel and amongst the supporters of the greater “Land of Israel”. Out right and complete stupidity.

  10. Talkback
    April 13, 2012, 8:15 am

    JDL sounds exactly like German neo-Nazis.

  11. ahadhaadam
    April 13, 2012, 10:53 am

    I don’t know who came up with the “flytilla” idea but it seems to be a very expensive way to protest and probably ineffective too. I can think of a dozen ways to protest more effectively without wasting money on a round-way tickets and 12 hours of sitting in trans-continental flights.

    • CigarGod
      April 13, 2012, 11:23 am

      Since when does “one size fit all”?

    • anonymouscomments
      April 13, 2012, 11:25 am

      I’d be interested in if the flights are refunded or they eat the cost…. I considered doing such a program. I also had a worst case ploy to try to stay if they wanted to deport me- give me my citizenship, I want to make Aliyah!

      I also wanted to be like- the (BS) reason I am making Aliyah is because though antisemitism is a non-issue in America currently, it is possible Israel’s actions could cause an explosion of antisemitism in the coming years.

      Does anyone know how they treat people who legally can make Aliyah, yet are pro-Palestinian rights/anti-occupation (or G-d forbid, support the refugee right of return)? Would they let me get my citizenship?

      • Sumud
        April 18, 2012, 3:18 am

        Does anyone know how they treat people who legally can make Aliyah, yet are pro-Palestinian rights/anti-occupation (or G-d forbid, support the refugee right of return)? Would they let me get my citizenship?

        I think so anonymouscomments. There are lots of anti-apartheid jews living in Israel, though I’m guessing most would have learnt about the horror of Israel after they made aliyah.

        Jeff Halper of ICADH moved to Israel in the 70s I think. Someone like Norm Finkelstein is now banned from even visiting Israel, but he is the exception rather than the rule. It would be ridiculous if Israel started doing political interrogation on potential jewish immigrants – but Israel is getting more and more ridiculous by the day so you never know…

  12. justicewillprevail
    April 13, 2012, 11:21 am

    Israel, of course, goes straight into denial mode and starts shrieking wildly about those ‘nasty provocateurs’. Not a word will be forthcoming from their carefully controlled news managers about why this protest is taking place, or why Palestinians have to grovel before their masters and kiss their ring before they can travel in and out of their own country. And for many of them that won’t suffice either. Oh for the situation to be reversed, just for a week or so, so we can listen to the howling outrage and the claims of imminent destruction of the entire country as they suffer unto them what they do unto others.

  13. Graber
    April 13, 2012, 12:07 pm

    The latest from Gideon Levy in Haaretz:
    ‘Israel is paranoid about pro-Palestinian activists’

    “The roots of this paranoia are deep and thought-provoking. Were Israel convinced of the justice of its path, it wouldn’t behave this way. If Israel really thought the occupation is just and legal, it wouldn’t be frightened by every conscientious activist who opposes it. If it had nothing to hide, it would respectfully invite them to visit.

    But when the ground is burning beneath our feet, and the fire of doubt and insecurity is consuming everything, the only response is a violent and unrestrained attack. On Sunday, when the farce of arrests and the grotesque expulsion take place once again, the activists will register another significant victory: Once again they will prove that Israel does have something to hide, that in spite of all its propaganda, Israel is well aware that there are skeletons in its closet and anyone who dares come near them will suffer the same fate – expulsion.”

  14. piotr
    April 13, 2012, 3:12 pm

    I think that the cartoon is grossly misleading.

    I know Israeli anti-tourist defenses mostly from literature, but the possibility of more than 1000 of ill-wishing tourists descending on Israeli soil calls for very large re-inforcements.

    The manual says that a prospective visitor (it is also used for departing travelers) should be subjected to an interview of length and annoyance value in strict relation to the error in the views of that individual. It may be a series of questions and insults to intelligence conducted by several agents asking the same questions for some number of hours, to be followed, or preceeded, by similarly tedious searches. So what is needed is an extra battalion of security agents, simply to interview and search.

    And suppose that some of the vile tourist would make a flash mob at the airport. Another battalion is needed to save the lives of the foolish tourists from the enraged masses of Zionist patriots.

    And there are so many aspects of the situation. Extra personnel needed to greet the flytilla is definitely comparative to a infantry brigade.

  15. Chaos4700
    April 16, 2012, 9:54 am

    You know I wasn’t aware there were so many Israeli airports in Europe.

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