Occupied Jerusalem, April 15 (QNA) – An estimated 650 Israeli police and security officials, most in plain clothes, have been assigned to guard the Ben Gurion airport, ahead of hundreds of international pro-Palestinian activists who are scheduled to arrive at the airport on Sunday.
“We are going to defend the borders in every possible way,” Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said to Israel Radio on Sunday morning, responding to questions about the “Flytilla” protest set to take place at Ben Gurion airport.
By early morning Sunday, no attempted entries by protesters had been reported. Last year, a similar “Flytilla” event resulted in dozens of arrests and deportations.
According to Katz, Sunday is to be a very busy day at Ben Gurion, with some 50,000 travelers passing through the airport due to the end of the Passover and Easter holidays.
On Saturday, responding to requests from the government, several airlines cancelled flights to Israel, resulting in an estimated 60 percent drop in the amount of protesters due to arrive, the Israeli daily (Haaretz) reported.
The Israeli authorities are paying particular attention to flights arriving from England, France, Belgium and Turkey, as most of the international activists are expected to arrive from these countries.
Israe’s Ynet News reported that dozens of left-wing activists protested at Charles DeGaulle airport in Paris on Sunday against the cancelled flights, holding up signs reading: “The first checkpoint is in Paris.”
The Prime Ministers Office prepared a letter to be distributed to the activists who do arrive, defending Israel s policies and advising them to focus on the “real problems” plaguing the region like Syria, Iran and Gaza before wishing them a “pleasant flight home.”
“We are one of the most democratic and liberal states in the world but these are not people who want to be interviewed or who want peace. These are not simple people, they are people who want to harm the State of Israel,” Katz said.
“This is the way to guard our borders. Ben Gurion airport is the entrance to the state. What if tomorrow they want to enter from the border with Jordan, Syria or Gaza? We have the right not to grant entry, just like any state.”
Several Right wing activists, including National Union MK Michael Ben Ari, arrived at the airport Sunday morning to hold a counter protest.”This is not just another fly-in, this is anti-Semitism in modern garb,” said Ben Ari.
Local pro-Palestinian activists are also expected to arrive at the airport to greet the international arrivals.
Police forces were instructed to use minimal force in dispersing the demonstrations and apprehending the protesters. (QNA)
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