The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) released a statement earlier today saying that 12 British nationals are amongst internationals who have been detained and arrested by Israeli forces as they attempted to enter Palestine via Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv yesterday.
The action taken by hundreds of activists flying in to Ben Gurion airport this weekend is part of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative and is meant to challenge Israel’s discriminatory entry practices to Palestinians and solidarity activists. The action is happening at the same time that hundreds of other Palestinians and internationals are participating in the second freedom flotilla.
SPSC stated yesterday that “most [of the] internationals successfully [boarded] flights to Tel Aviv,” and were warned to expect immediate deportation upon arrival.”
SPSC added in their press release:
Most airlines appear to have ignored calls from Israeli authorities to refuse travel to around 700 European and US participants of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative that aims to highlight Israel’s effective blockade of the West Bank.
Israeli authorities have threatened to deport all participants on arrival at Tel Aviv, but participants say they will appeal deportation and the attempt to deny them entry to Palestine. The UK Foreign Office has arranged consular assistance in Tel Aviv.
Israeli media reports numerous arrests of Israeli supporters of the initiative who had gone to the airport to welcome the participants. The Jerusalem Post reports that pro-Palestinian activists who had held up signs inside the terminal saying ‘Welcome to Palestine’ were “taken outside by police where they were arrested and attacked by bystanders.” In recent days Israeli commentators have expressed concern at the heavy-handed approach and ‘hysteria’ of the Israeli government in preparing for the arrival of internationals.
Organizers of the “fly-in” action chose the date to coincide with the 7th anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s ruling in 2004 that Israel’s wall in the West Bank is illegal, SPSC added.
Additionally, Palestinian civil society organizations have officially called for a military embargo on Israel. The BDS National Committee (BNC) stated yesterday that:
A comprehensive military embargo on Israel is long overdue. It forms a crucial step towards ending Israel’s unlawful and criminal use of force against the Palestinian people and other peoples and states in the region, and it constitutes an effective, non-violent measure to pressure Israel to comply with its obligations under international law.
The call comes amidst mounting pressure to hold Israel accountable to international law, including from the Freedom Flotilla 2 and the Welcome to Palestine “Fly-in” which began arriving at Tel Aviv airport this morning amidst chaotic scenes despite many activists being prevented from flying from Western airports.
Palestinian activists with the Hirak Shababi youth movement gathered in front of the United Nations office in Ramallah to symbolically deliver the call along with evidence of international military collusion with Israel.
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Laureate, said, “I endorse this call for an arms embargo because we desire peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis through non-violent ways,” BNC stated.