Pro-Palestinian 'flytilla' stopped at airports by Israeli security

Israel detained dozens of pro-Palestinian activists yesterday at its main airport and deterred hundreds more from boarding flights to Israel in a security operation ridiculed by domestic media as excessive.

In the second mass event protesting Israel's policies towards Palestinians in as many weeks, up to 800 rights campaigners had hoped to land in Tel Aviv yesterday and declare their intention to travel to the occupied West Bank to try to expose Israeli restrictions on access to the Palestinian territory.

Israel largely thwarted those plans after issuing foreign airlines with a blacklist of more than 340 people compiled from social media sites. It urged the airlines to prevent the activists from boarding, warning them that they would bear the cost of flying them back. Most of those who did make it onto their flights – at least 55 – were stopped at Israeli immigration and faced deportation.

Accused of being ill-prepared for protests on its borders that have previously ended in embarrassment for Israel, the Jewish State was in no mood to treat the so-called "flytilla" lightly, and officials drafted in hundreds of extra police to bolster security at one of the world's most fortified airports.

On the eve of an overseas trip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the activists were "provocateurs" intending to cause disturbances. The activists, many of them elderly, responded by saying they were coming in peace to visit Palestinian families and show solidarity.

In European airports – particularly Charles de Gaulle in Paris – activists barred from boarding their flights held spontaneous protests, shouting "Boycott Israel" and accusing the airlines of bowing to Israel's demands.

"I am absolutely shocked that it is possible that I am being blacklisted without any evidence that I have done anything," Cynthia Beat, a passenger turned away from her flight in Berlin, told Reuters. "Apparently, it is sufficient to state that you would like to go to Palestine, to spend time with Palestinians, in order to be banned from Israel."

Although thousands of tourists visit the West Bank every year, pro-Palestinian activists are often advised to conceal the purpose of their visit to avoid being turned back by Israel.

While the operation appeared a success from Israel's point of view, it was criticised by domestic commentators, who accused the government of overreacting to perceived threats. "How does it happen that once again we are playing right into the hands of a few bands of miscreants who are trying – and succeeding – in making Israel look bad around the world?" asked the best-selling Yedioth Ahronot newspaper.

Israel's global image has appeared increasingly battered since Israeli commandoes stormed a flotilla bound for Gaza last May, killing nine Turkish activists, and dealing a near-fatal blow to Turkish-Israeli relations. The international community condemned Israel for using disproportionate force and pressured Israel to ease its four-year blockade of Gaza, aimed at weakening Islamist group Hamas.

But the blockade is still in force, with the ban on exports preventing a recovery of the economy, and most of the 1.6 million Palestinians living there being confined to the tiny enclave.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery assistants required across Cambridgeshire

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

SEN 1:1 Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week