The Israeli Security Service Shin Bet has blacklisted over 1000 people from entering Israel. Many of the people named on the list have no evidence linking them as activists part of this year’s “Welcome to Palestine” flytilla.
The Shin Bet compiled the list with the intelligence division of the Israel Police. The Population Registry was also involved in keeping out certain passengers, but said it was following Shin Bet’s orders.
Israel issued the list of blacklisted passengers names to international airlines, threatening to take legal measure against them if they were allowed to board planes bound for Israel. Security officials reportedly tracked the activists on social media sits such as Twitter and Facebook to compile the list.
The 730 people on the initial blacklist were all foreign citizens banned either by the Israeli Intelligence’s determination that they were flying in solely to take part in the protest, or because they had arrived in Israel for that purpose during a previous fly-in held in July.
The 270 people who took part in the previous protest have been banned from entering the country for ten years.
Many of the passengers on the list had also been arrested for protests in the West bank, or their names appear online in connection to pro-Palestinian groups.
About twenty airlines were told they would have to pay for the return flights of any people blacklisted and turned away at the border.
The airlines include Jet2.com, a British airline which obliged to the threat by refusing a British citizen to board the plan, while refusing to refund the ticket.
Other airines that cancelled tickets include Air France, Alitalia, Easyjet and Turkish Airlines. Lufthansa and Swiss airlines also cancelled flights bound for Israel, leaving airports around Europe the locations for mass protests. The companies cited Israeli threat of sanctions as the main reason for cancellations.
According to Haaretz, Shin Bet has no evidence that 470 of the 1200 people labeled “pro-Palestinian activists” intended to do anything illegal, or that they were connected to the protest.
Passengers on the blacklist who have no connection to the protest include an employee of Italy’s Communications Ministry and a Dutch Member of the board of directors of German pharmaceutical giant Merck. Both were eventually allowed into the country.
“We put people on the list, who are as far removed from anti-Israel political activity as east is from west,” a Foreign Ministry official told Haaretz, “We have insulted hundred of foreign citizens because of suspicions, and have given the other side a victory on a silver platter.”
The Shin Bet has not responded to requests for comment.
Responding to the blacklist, Lubna Masarwa, one of the organizers of the protest told Haaretz, “What is clear is that there is a popular struggle that is gaining momentum and has the international support of thousands of activists. The Palestinians are not alone in their struggle.”
Around 100 activists managed to travel to the West Bank, despite Israel controlling access to the region, for the first “Welcome to Palestine” campaign in 2010.
Last year, Israel worked with airlines to prevent hundreds of activists from flying in, detaining and deporting 120 of those that did manage to arrive at the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv.
This year, the Canadian coordination for the campaign said they anticipated about 1500 participants from around the world. 79 of the protestors, including one 19-year-old Canadian student, were detained by Israel authorities, at Ben Gurion airport.