Israel Prepared for Pro-Palestinian 'Flytilla'

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel is making final preparations for another attempt by pro-Palestinian activists to flood Ben Gurion International Airport on Sunday.

This year's event has been dubbed a "flytilla" because it's modeled after the seafaring flotilla meant to deligitimize Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch is working with police, aviation authority, immigration authority and defense department officials to prepare for the activists' arrival in Israel. 

"Welcome to Palestine 2012," the group overseeing this year's campaign, has rounded up activists from the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand. They plan to visit areas under Palestinian Authority control in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Jerusalem to demonstrate their support.

On its website, the group accuses the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) of committing "brutal crimes against a virtually defenseless Palestinian civilian population."

Aharonovitch hopes some of the provocateurs -- whose names were forwarded to international airports abroad -- will be prevented from boarding their flights, as they were in many European countries in July 2011.

But Dr. Mazin Qumsieh, one of the organizers, says the airlines won't prevent protesters from boarding because some passengers filed suit against them last year.

"I don't know how Israel plans to deal with this," Qumsieh said, "but what would it look like if it deports 1,500 people," he said, adding that, "We're not trying to make Israel look bad."

Meanwhile, a sizable police presence at the airport -- instructed to maintain order while exercising as much restraint as possible -- will arrest activists as they deplane and arrange for their deportation, all with minimum disturbance to normal passengers.

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The Jerusalem Post and YNet contributed to this report.

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