Pro-Palestinian activists who organized a "flytilla" to Israel in order to travel to the West Bank and demonstrate against Israeli policies have been sent home after arriving at Ben Gurion international airport on Sunday.
Many members of the Welcome to Palestine campaign had already been prevented by authorities across Europe from boarding flights bound for Israel. In Belgium, for instance, passengers scuffled with police, venting frustrations that they were not allowed to board their flights. They were told that their names were on a "list," but passengers did not know if they were being classified as terrorists or why their names would appear on a list. No explanations were given, leading some to believe that Israel is a "closed country."
In Tel Aviv, Israeli authorities say that they are only detaining those who represent a security risk to the state. Last week, the Interior Ministry told airlines across Europe that any passenger who boards while on the No Fly List will have to be returned at the airline's expense.
The flytilla has also attracted members of Israel's right wing to Tel Aviv's airport. They are opposed to any anti-Israel or pro-Palestine demonstrators, claiming that the demonstrators are anti-Semitic and supporters of the Hamas and PLO.
Israel's Prime Minister issued a sarcastic letter to be given to activists who land in Israel and are turned back, in which he suggests that demonstrators should be protesting Syria, Iran and places that "promote crime, terrorism and savagery." The letter tells activists to "solve real problems, then come back to Israel" and ends with, "Have a nice flight."