Seven Palestinian 'flytilla' activists blocked in Rome
ROME- Agence Frence-Presse
Israeli border policemen stand guard at Ben Gurion air port near Tel Aviv on April 15, 2012 as hundreds of Israeli police, many undercover, are at the airport to block the arrival of activists taking part in a "Welcome to Palestine" fly-in. AFP PhotoSeven Italian pro-Palestinian activists were prevented from boarding a flight today to Tel Aviv operated by Italy's national carrier Alitalia from Rome, media reported.
"Alitalia this morning, on orders from Israel, prevented seven Italian activists from boarding a flight to Tel Aviv," the daily La Repubblica reported on its website, saying that one of them was the left-wing cartoonist Vauro Senesi.
Fabio Marcelli, from the association of democratic lawyers, and a member of the Italian delegation left behind in Rome, told the news agency ANSA that the (Israeli) directive "shows that the Israeli authorities are afraid of demonstrations in favour of Palestine." The seven Italians intended to take part in the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign in Tel Aviv, which is being organised for the third consecutive year.
Palestinian 'fly-in' activists stopped at Swiss airport
Several dozen pro-Palestinian activists protested at Geneva airport today, saying authorities prevented them from boarding a Tel Aviv-bound flight as part of a "fly-in" that Israel has vowed to block.
The "Welcome to Palestine" campaign said that around 30 people had been prevented from boarding the 6:30 am (0430 GMT) flight.
Geneva police, however, put the number of people not authorized to board at two.
"The information we got from activists is that over 20 were able to board the plane," said Anas Muhammed, spokesman for the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign.
"But there were dozens that were not allowed to board and they are protesting at the airport," he said, adding that some 30 people remained at the airport to protest.
Muhammed said there had been a "high police presence" at the airport and one of the activists had their passport confiscated.
The activists were part of a "flytilla" or "fly-in" being held for a third consecutive year.
Its organizers in the West Bank say they want to publicise Israel's control of movement into and out of the Palestinian territory and to express solidarity with the Palestinians.
"They are going to visit Palestinians who are under occupation, they are going to visit the West Bank," Muhammed in Geneva said.
Israel deployed hundreds of police, many of them undercover, to Ben Gurion airport outside of Tel Aviv to block the arrival of activists whom organizers predicted would number up to 1,500, more than a third of them from France.
Following Israeli warnings that airlines would have to foot the bill for the activists' immediate return, at least four European carriers -- Air France, Britain's budget carrier Jet2.com, Germany's Lufthansa and Swiss Air -- all prevented an unspecified number of passengers from flying in, European officials said.
The activists, mainly from European countries, are expected to openly declare their intention to visit the Palestinian West Bank.