470 Passengers Marked As Activists Had Nothing To Do With “Welcome To Palestine”
Monday April 16, 2012 09:50 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Israeli daily, Haaretz, reported that 470 of the 1200 persons that Israel blacklisted as “pro-Palestinian” and part of the Welcome To Palestine campaign, were not activists; two of them were a French diplomat and his wife.
Haaretz reported that 40% of those marked as part of the campaign were just added to the blacklist of the Shin Bet intelligence agency without any proof that they were connected in any way to the Welcome To Palestine campaign.
The paper stated that the latest information was provided by a senior Israeli source, and that the Israeli Shin Bet did not have solid grounds to assume that the 470 foreign nationals intended to do anything that violates Israeli laws.
Israel placed names on the list despite the fact that they have nothing to do with any “anti-Israel” activity, adding that Israel offended hundreds of foreign nationals due to unfounded suspicions, adding that this act “gave the other side a victory in a silver platter”, Haaretz reported.
Despite Israeli claims and unfounded accusations, the Flytilla activists intended to head directly to the West Bank, starting in Bethlehem, to express solidarity and support to the internationally-guaranteed rights of the Palestinian people living under illegal Israeli military occupation.
A French activist told Haaretz that Israel’s security forces and the security forces in France treated her, and the other nonviolent activists, as criminals, adding that France just fell for Israel’s propaganda.
An official at the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the list of banned names was expanded over the weekend, an issue that made it easy for tourists to be labeled as activists.
Haaretz reported that a French diplomat and his wife were preparing to fly to Tel Aviv as they were due to start work at the French embassy; however Lufthansa German Airways cancelled their tickets along with dozens of others that were cancelled due to pressure from the Israeli government.
The diplomat and his wife intended to look for an apartment and settle in before they start work in the summer. Lufthansa sent them an email telling them their tickets have been cancelled due to the fact that they have been banned from entering Israel.
Lufthansa was not the only airline that surrendered to Israeli pressures to void tickets of hundreds of passengers; 20 airlines, most of them based in E.U. countries, received direct threats from Israel to impose sanctions on them should they allow the activists to fly.
Several Israelis, including an Arab-Israeli woman, were also prevented from flying as their names were blacklisted by the Israeli intelligence.
Israel placed the names of 730 persons on its initial blacklist claiming that they are flying to the country to participate in protests; they were banned from entering the country.
Another 270 persons, believed to be part of nonviolent protests, were not only blacklisted, but were also banned from entering the country for 10 years.
According to the Israeli Police, many of the foreign nationals have been previously arrested by the Israeli army during protests in the West Bank, and that their names were found online connected to several pro-Palestine groups, Haaretz said.
It is worth mentioning that Israeli peace activists were arrested by the police for protesting in solidarity with the Welcome To Palestine campaign. Israel deployed more than 650 policemen at the Ben Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv.