While it is the lawful right of a country to prohibit air passengers from entering, the move remains controversial.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.”
Her group then began demonstrating in front of all the airlines that were not allowing the activists to board, shouting “Collaborators, collaborators!” to condemn the French authorities for their action. In addition to Lufthansa, other airlines that disallowed activists from boarding were Air France, Alitalia, Malev Airlines, easyJet, and Swiss Air.
“We asked why they wouldn’t check us in and they would not give a reason, they simply said we could not board this flight,” Satina added.
Most of the passengers not allowed to board are French citizens with valid passports, according to Satina, who said activists were “supposed to go on two Lufthansa flights and one Swiss Air flight in terminal one, and Air Italia and Air France flights in Terminal two.”
A sense of proportionality
Israeli immigration spokeswoman Sabine Hadad admitted that Israel had given airlines a list of 342 “unwanted people” and warned airlines that those passengers would “immediately be turned back at the expense of the companies”.
After the warning was issued, Haddad said, “The companies have already refused to take on board around 200 of these passengers,” and added that two US activists who arrived overnight had already been sent back to the United States.