From Jordan to Bethlehem
Jerusalem, 25th of August 2012, Nena News – Pro-Palestinian activists from the Welcome to Palestine/Bienvenue en Palestine group have said that they are planning to try to enter the West Bank from Jordan, after the group’s previous ‘flytillas’ were either prevented from flying by their airlines or blocked from entering Israel at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport in July 2011 and April 2012.
The activists, who currently number 104 men, women and children from several European countries and the US, arrived into Amman on the 24th August. They then plan to cross into the West Bank today (26th of August) via the King Hussein/Allenby Bridge land border crossing. A spokesperson for the group said that they will be travelling into the West Bank at the invitation of the Governor of Bethlehem, Abed Al-Fatah Hamayel, and will be bringing stationary for Palestinian children who will be starting school again at the start of a new academic year.
Following the turning away of hundreds of activists from Israel during the previous ‘flytillas’ Greg Roman, Deputy Director of the Gloria Centre in Herzliya in Israel, and a former political advisor to the Knesset told Al Jazeera’s ‘Inside Story’, “If they wanted to go to the area which I hope will one day be Palestine…they could have entered through the Rafah crossing in Gaza…or the Allenby Bridge…there were alternatives.”
In the statement, the spokesperson said that they would be using the Jordan land crossing “as recommended” by Israeli officials. The spokesperson said, “because we are against ghettos and because we would be ashamed to imitate these political “leaders”, we’ll keep trying to visit Palestinian families and their associations. Even prisoners should have a right to have visitors, shouldn’t they?” They also asked, “Can you imagine Israelis banned from European countries because they criticize European policies?”
The spokesperson pointed out that the activists who had previously tried to reach Palestine were not criminals. They said, “All the participants in these initiatives, who could reach Tel Aviv airport on these two occasions, peacefully lined up, showed their passports, and told the truth about their destination and motivation.” Another activist told Israeli media that the smaller group was intended to help them enter the West Bank more easily. “We hope Israel lets them cross, but if it refuses, we will return with another campaign which will see masses of activists swarm Ben-Gurion airport,” he said.
At the previous ‘flytillas’ those activists who made it to Ben Gurion airport had announced their intention to visit Palestine, and the Welcome to Palestine spokesperson confirmed to PNN that they would also be stating their intention to visit Bethlehem this time.