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Friday, July 8, 2011

Peace initiative meets more Israeli aggression

Re-reporting by Carolyn Bennett

Hundreds of Internationals and Hundreds of Palestinians Gear-up for July 8-16 activities
Israel deploys military, presses airlines against  ‘Aerial flotilla’

Palestinian civil society organizations, popular resistance committees, and political factions announced the launch of “Welcome to Palestine” initiative for July 8-16 in which hundreds of Internationals will work with hundreds of Palestinians for Peace. The hundreds of men, women, and children plan to July 8 at Tel Aviv’s Lod Airport (now Ben Gurion International) Airport.

“The international community," say the activists, "must recognize the basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassment. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite all to join with us openly and proudly. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force us to speak less than with full honesty.

“This July initiative comes in a planned series of events and follows similar events carried out in December under the slogan of ‘ending apartheid and ethnic cleansing.’

“The week of activities starts on July 9, … the anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling about the illegality of the Settlements and the apartheid wall in the occupied Palestinian Territories and the anniversary of the Palestinian Civil Society Call to Action: July 9 Ramallah area, July 10 Bethlehem area, July 11 North, July 12 Hebron and Jordan Valley, July 13 Neqab, July 14-15 Jerusalem.

"The July ‘Welcome to Palestine’ initiative will take participants (Palestinians and Internationals) to different parts of Palestine from the north to the Negev and highlight the power of nonviolence and peace building efforts. Visitors will be accommodated locally and will enjoy Palestinian hospitality and a program of networking, fellowship, and volunteer peace work in Palestinian towns and villages together with hundreds of local activists."

However, Israel was again having none of it. Reporting yesterday from Free Speech Radio News said, “Aerial Flotilla” meets airlines, Israeli security 
“‘I'm horrified that Israel is outsourcing its occupation and that countries like Canada, Greece, Switzerland, are agreeing to take part in continuing the Israeli occupation, in this case by not allowing peace activists to come.  I hope that peace activists will turn to their own governments and protest this complicity in the Israeli occupation.’”  [Co-Director of Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem, Connie Hackbarth] 
In the face of hundreds of activists from Europe, Africa and the U.S. planning to fly into Tel Aviv airport within the next 24 hours,” FSRN’s Jillian Kestler-D’Amours reported yesterday from Israel, “The Israeli media reported Thursday that 600 Israeli police officers will be deployed at the airport.  The Israeli Ministry of Interior also reportedly sent letters to airlines asking them to bar activists from flying into Israel.”

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists are expected to land at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport [today].  In response, Israeli authorities have mobilized security forces and have asked foreign airlines to ban the activists from their flights. 

The activists are part of the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ initiative, which has been planning the action since March. “The Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem has been working with the protesters and has released an email sent from a Swiss airline to one of the activists reading, ‘The Israeli Ministry of the Interior has refused your entry into their territory.  For this reason your reservation has been cancelled.’”

The first of approximately 50 flights carrying the activists is expected to land early Friday morning. 

Sources and notes
“‘Aerial Flotilla’ meeting resistance from airlines, Israeli security,” July 7, 2011, http://fsrn.org/audio/headlines-thursday-july-7-2011/8773

“Welcome to Palestine” initiative July 8-16 challenges Israel's air blockade (by Palestine Justice Network), Wednesday July 6, 2011, http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2011/07/06/18683902.php
Related links
“Challenging Israeli apartheid — by plane” (Mazin Qumsiyeh), The Electronic Intifada, July 5, 2011, http://electronicintifada.net/content/chal...

English articles and stories on the event
Palestine Justice Network (PalestineJN.org)


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