Some 250 pro-Palestinian activists were expected to arrive at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport on Sunday as part of a protest "flightilla." A senior police official told Israel Hayom on Monday that the protesters planned to "disrupt the peace at the airport to embarrass Israel."
Last July, Israel successfully blocked a similar fly-in initiative by pro-Palestinian activists who planned to fly to Ben-Gurion airport. Most of the activists were deported within a week.
According to the police source, the protesters plan to demonstrate inside the airport and later travel to Judea and Samaria and demonstrate near the security barrier.
Hundreds of police officers were expected to await the arrival of the protesters at the airport. The police was maintaining ongoing contact with the foreign airlines, some of which handed over the names of the activists in efforts to prevent their entry into Israel, as was done last year. "Anyone who does manage to make it here and proceeds to disrupt the peace will be arrested immediately," the police official said.
In light of measures to prevent their arrival, the activists may push their flights up and land in Israel as early as Friday or Saturday.
As Easter ends on Sunday, the day of the planned airport demonstration, authorities expect some 50,000 passengers to pass through Ben-Gurion airport. Security officials were planning to take measures to prevent disruptions while making efforts to preserve routine airport conduct on one of its busiest days. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beitenu) said Monday that "the activists will be denied entry. They will be transferred to holding facilities and be kept in custody until they are deported."
"Israel will prevent this provocation the same way any other country bars the entry of hostile entities," he said, adding "we will handle the provocateurs as quickly and efficiently as possible, but we will not be chasing them down the airport halls."
The efforts to prevent the planned airport demonstration last summer included careful questioning of all the passengers. Some 130 pro-Palestinian activists arrived in the last flightilla. They were promptly arrested and transferred to a holding facility and ultimately deported back to their home countries. Many of the activists were even prevented from boarding flights to Israel by foreign airlines.