A standoff between Israel and dozens of detained European pro-Palestinian activists continued Monday, with some of them refusing to be put on return flights.
More than 81 were still being held in an Israeli jail early Monday, three days after being refused entry on landing at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport.
“Some of them refuse to be returned while with others, it is only a matter of finding a vacant seat on a flight,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “The only delay is a vacancy on a free flight,” he added.
Some 39 had been expelled by Monday, including 10 Germans who landed in Frankfurt late Sunday. Among the expelled was an 82-year-old German, who complained that despite his advanced age, he was kept on a transportation vehicle for hours, then brought to Beer Sheva prison with the other activists. He said he had only told Israeli security at Ben-Gurion that he wished to “visit friends in Israel and Palestine.” Palmor said he had no information of the specific case, which outraged many.
The spokesman said Israel had denied entry to anyone who was on a list published by the Welcome to Palestine campaign, as soon as the coalition of Palestinian groups announced the activists would participate in unauthorized protests against the Israeli occupation.