Palestinian ‘Flytilla’ hit by arrests as Israel stamps down | #Airflotilla2

Al Akhbar English | Published Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dozens of activists were detained as they flew into Israel on Sunday, as part of a protest to highlight the continued oppression of Palestinians.

Hundreds more were prevented from flying by airlines working in conjunction with the Jewish state, being stopped while boarding in countries including Britain, France, Switzerland and Turkey.

Reports on Sunday morning also said right-wing Jewish settler groups had appeared at airports in a counter protest, sparking fears of confrontation.

Over a thousand people had bought tickets to fly to Israel as part of Welcome to Palestine 2012’s ‘Flytilla’ campaign, according to event organizers.

However it appeared on Sunday morning that the majority had been prevented from boarding, with others arrested on arrival in Ben Gurion airport.

Activists condemned international airlines and countries for preventing them from boarding, with many threatening to take legal action over the cancelled flights.

Particular fury was vented at Turkey, which worked in conjunction with Israel to prevent activists boarding flights despite claiming to support the Palestinian struggle.

Spokesman for the event Diana Alzeer said three people had reached the country and travelled to Bethlehem.

Event organizers said the protest aimed to show how Palestine had become a “prison.”

“There is no way into Palestine other than through Israeli control points. Israel has turned Palestine into a giant prison, but prisoners have a right to receive visitors,” the Palestine Justice Network said.

“Welcome to Palestine 2012 will again challenge Israel’s policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population.”

Israel continues to deny Palestinians equal rights and restricts their freedom of movement.

The country maintains a siege of Gaza and continues to occupy the West Bank while encouraging the rapid development of Jewish-only settlements, which have been declared illegal by the UN.

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