A senior official at a European airline told Haaretz that this was an unprecedented request on Israel's part. "In the past we have gotten one or two names that authorities had banned their entry," he said. "This move is problematic because if we receive an updated list later on, we will have to fly back the plane at the expense of other passengers who had purchased regular tickets."
Haaretz, Israel instructs foreign airlines to prevent departure of 300 pro-Palestinian activists, July 7, 2011
That of course is assuming that the airlines can even make room to take these protesters back to where they came from.
Right now the message is:
Airlines: We cannot return pro-Palestinian activists denied entry to Israel
A senior official for one of the large European carriers told Haaretz on Saturday that "The airlines will have a hard time dealing all at once with large groups of pro-Palestinian activists that Israel wants to deport."Altogether, there are approximately 100 protesters, with 35 having arrived on Friday. The way the airlines will be handling the situation is to take the protesters back, a handful at a time.
"We're talking about the peak of summer traveling season and the flights are full. We'll have to act accordingly and make different preparations, but first of all, we'll have to receive instructions from the head of the aviation authority in Israel for the deportation of the activists," he said.
Why so few? The issue is not only one of space--
there is also the issue of resistance:The official also said that in the event of violent resistance or physical commotions on the plane on the part of the deportees, the plane's captain is entitled to decide not to carry them on board. The official referenced the return of deportees that arrived in Israel on the Gaza flotilla in June 2010, during which the activists caused disruptions on the flights, delaying them.
In the article from Haaretz that I quote at the beginning of this post, there was a prediction:
This event will end with either no problems or as a catastrophe. There will not be a middle-ground," a senior official at Ben-Gurion International Airport told Haaretz. He said that it only takes about 30 activists to make a scene at the airport for media outlets to widely report on it and thus hand the activists their victory.
I don't know that this has been a catasrophe, and this incident has definitely not ended with no problems.
I imagine that there may be a middle ground after all.
But for those protesters that are going to find it difficult getting back from whence they came, it just might be that they will end up with more (or actually less) than what they bargained for.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Flytilla.