Israel Criminalizes Travel
Flytilla activists denied their right to visit the West Bank.
by Stephen Lendman
Israel systematically wages war on rule of law principles, truth, equity, justice, and other democratic values.
Even Jews aren't safe. Anyone challenging Netanyahu's regime and earlier ones becomes vulnerable.
Travelers beware. Israel criminalized entry earlier. Rogue officials are at it again.
At issue are so-called "flytilla" activists. Reports suggest about 1,500 planned West Bank trips. Their purpose is peacefully challenging Israel's illegal occupation and bonding with Palestinians they support.
Airflotilla2/Welcome to Palestine 2012 participants plan week-long solidarity actions. About two dozen civil society organizations invited them. So did Bethlehem's mayor.
Planned activities include planting trees, laying a kindergarten cornerstone, repairing damaged wells, peacefully contesting illegal settlement construction, and engaging Palestinians other ways. Their mission is peace and solidarity, not confrontation and violence.
At issue is how many actually will arrive. Israel's going all out to block them. Airlines agreed to go along, Air France, Lufthansa, and Easyjet among them.
Israel sent them lists of likely travelers. It directed reservations and issued tickets be cancelled. Airlines dutifully complied. Reasons affected travelers got are spurious. Some plan legal action in response.
Bethlehem based Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh said Israel supplied airlines with hundreds of names along with a letter. It falsely claimed they planned provocations on arrival. Airlines know better. Nonetheless, they went along.
Those managing to arrive will be welcomed by dozens of Israeli activists. In a notice published Saturday, they said they await them with "welcome signs" and "open arms."
They'll also inhospitably face hundreds of Israeli security forces. They plan less than gracious greetings. They'll be accosted, interrogated, detained and deported. Some may be treated more harshly. Israel's a serial abuser. Nothing's too extreme in its arsenal. No one's immune from targeting.
In a letter Haaretz obtained, Amnon Shmueli from the Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority said: