Israel deports 42 `flytilla` activists

The activists were detained after flying into Israel for protests at the weekend.

Jerusalem: Israel on Tuesday expelled 42 foreign pro-Palestinian activists detained after flying into Israel for protests at the weekend, an official said.

"In total, 44 people were expelled on Tuesday, bound for Italy, France, Austria and Britain," immigration service spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said.

"There are currently 14 detainees, mostly French nationals, who should be deported on Wednesday afternoon," she said.

The detainees were part of the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign in which up to 800 people from Europe and the United States planned to fly to Israel and head to the Palestinian territories to visit Palestinian families.

Officials said that by notifying foreign airlines of ticket-holders who would not be admitted to Israel, they had prevented hundreds of people from boarding at their ports of departure.

Of those who managed to arrive, 120 were denied entry to Israel and taken into custody, although a handful were later admitted after signing pledges not to take part in public disorder.

They were held in two detention facilities, one near Tel Aviv, another in the southern Negev, while authorities found flights on which to expel them.

The "Welcome to Palestine" campaign took place as a flotilla of ships trying to break a blockade on the Gaza Strip was prevented from leaving Greece.

The timing of the fly-in campaign led some to dub it a "flytilla”, although organisers denied their mission was linked to the attempt to run the blockade.

Bureau Report

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