Israel grounds pro-Palestinian 'flytilla' protest

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Israel grounds pro-Palestinian 'flytilla' protest

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There have been chaotic scenes at Ben Gurion Airport as Israel cracked down on a so-called ‘flytilla’ protest by pro-Palestinian activists.

Arrests were made and dozens of incoming air passengers ordered to be deported.

Palestinians have no airport of their own and campaigners wanted to converge on Tel Aviv to challenge Israeli curbs on entering the West Bank.

Abroad, hundreds of would-be demonstrators were grounded at their point of departure. Israel had reportedly given airlines a list of suspected activists who would be turned back on arrival, with the carriers bearing the cost of flying them home.

In Geneva, a woman giving her name as Lila, said that even her nine-year-old daughter had been prevented from boarding a flight because she is seen as a potential threat to Israeli security.

But Israel is unrepentant, citing concerns for public order at its main gateway to the world.

Its ambassador to Switzerland, Ilan Elgar, said: “We are not willing to allow the entry of organised groups intent on provoking and demonstrating, just as any other country wouldn’t.”

Some Israelis denounced their government’s actions in blocking the protest. It comes after Greece stopped a flotilla hoping to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. A maritime aid mission last year ended in deadly clashes.