Related: Airflotilla Mission 2012 | Overview #Airflotilla | #Airflotilla2
JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel on Tuesday expelled 22 foreign pro-Palestinian activists detained after flying into Israel for protests at the weekend, and more were due to leave in the evening, an official said.
Immigration service spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said that those who left during the day were put on flights to Italy, France and Austria.
“Another 11 are on their way to an Alitalia flight,” she said. “There could be more during the night. At the moment we have 23 (still in custody).”
The detainees were part of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign in which up to 800 people from Europe and the United States planned to fly to Israel and head to the Palestinian territories to visit Palestinian families.
Israeli authorities marshalled diplomatic and security resources to try to head off the incoming activists.
Officials said that by notifying foreign airlines of ticket-holders who would not be admitted to Israel, they had prevented hundreds of people from boarding at their ports of departure.
Of those who managed to arrive, 120 were denied entry to Israel and taken into custody, although a handful were later admitted after signing pledges not to take part in public disorder.
They were held in two detention facilities, one near Tel Aviv, another in the southern Negev, while authorities found flights on which to expel them.
The “Welcome to Palestine” campaign took place as a flotilla of ships trying to break a blockade on the Gaza Strip was prevented from leaving Greece.
The timing of the fly-in campaign led some to dub it a “flytilla,” although organizers denied their mission was linked to the attempt to run the blockade.