Airlines refuse to let pro-Palestinians fly to join protest

Hundreds of police were deployed at Israel's main airport yesterday to detain activists flying in to protest against the country's occupation of Palestinian territory.

They were aided by European airlines, many of whom cancelled tickets of those planning to travel there at Israel's request. More than 40 pro-Palestinian activists made it to Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv as part of an attempted "fly-in", only to be detained by the authorities.

Many airlines blocked activists at their departure points after they were issued with "no-fly" lists by Israel. British budget carriers easyJet and Jet2.com prevented activists from boarding Israel-bound planes from London and Manchester, and angry demonstrations were staged in several European capitals after at least 300 passenger tickets were cancelled.

Scores of activists protested at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, where airport sources said 90 passengers had been prevented from boarding Lufthansa and Swiss Air flights for Tel Aviv. The activists participating in the fly-in say all planned activities, such as planting trees in the West Bank, are non-violent and accuse Israel of being unnecessarily heavy-handed.

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said the government "will make sure that everyone who wants to provoke is returned home and the rest will be allowed to enter Israel".

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