Archive | Palestine

Israel Expands Its Borders Into Europe

Recent clampdowns on Palestinian solidarity activists underscore Israel’s ability to outsource its security operations.

French police at Charles de Gaulle airport, where several airlines stopped dozens of Palestinian solidarity activists heading for a 'fly-in' protest in Israel from boarding planes in Paris (REUTERS)

On July 11, Israel announced it was not interested in having the United Nations become involved as a mediator in its maritime border issues with Lebanon.

But when it comes to recruiting other countries to assist in the enforcement of its naval blockade of Gaza, or having international airlines deny entry to passengers destined to the occupied territories from flying, Israel is keen to have other countries help.

In 2010, Israel faced the worst kind of media exposure when its military raided the Mavi Marmara, shooting dead nine activists and wounding 40 others, evoking global condemnation and a beginning a tectonic shift in its relations with Turkey.

Rather than risking direct confrontation with activists taking part the recent Freedom Flotilla II, or the ”Flytilla” of activists who attempted to fly into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, Israel instead chose another strategy that has proven quite effective.

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Israel’s No Fly Zone

While it is the lawful right of a country to prohibit air passengers from entering, the move remains controversial.

Israel has effectively managed to keep most 'flytilla' activists from boarding their flights to Tel Aviv (GALLO/GETTY)

The majority of an estimated 600 Tel Aviv-bound pro-Palestine activists intending to arrive on Friday, July 8 as part of the “Welcome to Palestine” movement have not been allowed to board their flights at originating airports.

The activists, approximately half of which are French nationals, were destined for the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The campaign name “flytilla”, is in reference to a parallel maritime protest flotilla, most of which was never allowed to leave Greek ports from which the ships were to sail.

According to activists involved in the action, the main goal was to show the injustice and human rights violations imposed on Palestinian community by Israel.

Nearly 100 activists were not allowed to board their Lufthansa Air flights at Charles de Galle airport in Paris on Friday morning.

“We came this morning at 4:30 am to get our 6:30 am flight,” Satina, an activist who asked that only her first name be used, told Al Jazeera, “When we arrived and wanted to check in, they told us to go to another check in point, where there they told us they could not check us in. We grouped together and asked why, but they didn’t give us anything in writing.”

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Activists Conducting ‘Fly In’ to Israel

Despite threats from Israeli security, hundreds of Palestinian solidarity activists plan to fly into Tel Aviv’s airport.

Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport is famous for having some of the tightest airport security in the world (GALLO/GETTY)

This Friday, July 8, hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists are planning to fly to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in a display of solidarity with Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

According to organisers, at least 500 people have already scheduled flights to Israel, including Palestinians that will fly from Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa.

The “fly in”, as organisers are referring to the action, will bring protesters to Tel Aviv where they will all arrive within a two-hour period. At least fifteen organisations are involved in the event which is timed to coincide with peaceful demonstrations and actions within the occupied territories that have been set up by Palestinians. The travellers plan to travel from the airport to the West Bank, a move that would challenge the long-standing Israeli government policy that has forbidden such movement.

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Stranded Flotilla Activists Still Hopeful

Pro-Palestinian activists have their sights set on sailing to Gaza, despite Greek authorities blocking them.

Greece says its ban on all Gaza-bound ships leaving port was to protect pro-Palestinian activists (Reuters)

Most of the nine vessels that pro-Palestinian activists planned to sail on as part of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in defiance of an Israeli blockade remain stranded in Greece ports, after Greek authorities forbade them from embarking on the journey.

Two vessels have been sabotaged and are currently unable to sail, while most of the others remain under the watchful eye of Greek coastguard or military personnel.

Despite their growing frustration and diminishing morale, some activists are hopeful that their Gaza Flotilla II would finally be able to make the journey and break Israel’s siege on the Palestinian territory.

‘Let us sail’

Members of the Dutch-Italian boat issued an open letter to the Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou on Sunday, expressing outrage over his “government’s decision to close the ports of Greece to our humanitarian initiative, even by force if needed”.

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