In anticipation of a planned "air flotilla" involving thousands of pro-Palestinian activists flying into Israel and seeking entry to Palestinian territories, Israel will be stationing approximately 650 police officers at Ben Gurion Airport this Sunday with orders to detain and deport the foreign activists.
Between 500 and 1,000 activists are expected to try to land in to Israel on about 20 flights arriving throughout the day from Western Europe and Turkey. Their suspected goal is to rendezvous with Palestinian activists and demonstrate in traditionally controversial areas such as East Jerusalem and the security fence built to stop terrorists from infiltrating from the West Bank.
Organizers contend that this week's mission, sponsored by an umbrella group called "Welcome to Palestine," is non-violent and seeks to draw attention toward Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinians.
One organizer, Abdelfattah Abusrour claimed the activists should be allowed in to engage in cultural activities and assist the city of Bethlehem.
"They have the right to enter Palestine. It's not up to Israel to forbid anybody from coming into Palestine," Abusrour said.
Israeli police view the campaign as an act of hostility aimed at creating provocations and garnering media attention. As such, the police reviewed operational details with representatives of the intelligence community Wednesday to ensure no activists successfully bypass security.
"Israel will prevent this provocation, just as every country prevents the entry of hostile elements to its territory," Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said. "We will be determined and speedy in our response, but we will not chase anyone through the halls of the airport."
As was the case with a similar "flytilla" last July, the Public Security Ministry hopes to prevent the majority of activists from boarding planes to Israel by providing airlines with lists of names to look out for compiled from social media sites. Those who manage to arrive in Israel will be removed from their planes and denied entry.