Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Over one hundred visitors turned back at Israeli border

By Lara Oak - August 29, 2012
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Welcome to Palestine] [Jordan]

Ramallah, West Bank- “Can you imagine Israelis banned from European countries because they criticize European policies or because they want to show solidarity with certain segments of European society?”

This was the question that was posed by the organisers of Saturday’s 26 August attempt to defy the blockade of the West Bank. Not only were more than one hundred peace activists of all ages and nationalities banned from crossing over the Allenby bridge into the West Bank but they were also granted no explanation for being rejected. Instead, they were turned away holding passports with the stamp “entry denied” as glaring evidence of the frosty welcome the Israeli authorities felt towards them coming. The activists decided to enter the West Bank via Jordan after an Israeli official’s recommendation to use this route after entrance through the Ben Gurion Airport (built on the lands of the Palestinian village of Lydd) was refused. Hence the consequent refusal by the Israeli border control for this attempt was contradictory but also expected.

However, the organisers of the third “Welcome to Palestine” campaign remain stoic in their belief that rather than this being a failed mission it further highlights to the world the reality that Palestinians face daily at checkpoints, borders and other arbitrary restrictions that are imposed on their movement.

Mazin Qumsiyeh, one of the leaders of the initiative, sees every action, however varying in success, as having a cumulative effect on the oppression and injustice that the occupying forces are inflicting on every level on the Palestinian people.

“Even prisoners receive the right visitors, so why are Palestinians not also granted this simple request?” he remarked.

The previous mission held in the summer of 2012 saw Ben Gurion Airport turn into a virtual military camp, one activist stated. Over one hundred extra security personnel were employed and even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made an appearance at the airport. This offensive and exaggerated response reveals the panic and paranoia which runs so strongly in the Israeli policy towards maintaining the West Bank as a closed military zone.


Israeli intelligence’s preparation for the visitors in July 2012, included fabricating a list of 1,200 individuals that were due to fly that day, many of whom were denied entry although they had absolutely no connection to the campaign. All these indicators reveal the arbitrary nature of Israeli intelligence gathering that surrounded the case of internationals entering the West Bank and the mistakes that were made throughout.

The organisers are posing many questions to the Israeli government and also to the world at large. Armed with almost a ton of school books and stationary to distribute to Palestinian children returning to school this week, the activists were scheduled to visit refugee camps, major towns and villages to give them a rounded impression of what life is like for Palestinians living under occupation.

By denying Internationals entry to the Occupied West Bank, the Israeli authorities raise the profile of the cause and instead of defusing the situation, in fact intensify it. Treating these peace activists as potential “hooligans” and “provocateurs” so called by the Israeli authorities on previous campaigns, raises the absurdity and disproportionate response they have to a group of visitors that included French grandmothers, a holocaust survivor and other activists from all walks of life.

Even prisoners receive the right visitors, so why are Palestinians not also granted this simple request?

The next “Welcome to Palestine” mission hopes to invite bishops, clergymen and other religious leaders from around the world to openly and peacefully confront the Israeli policy of refusing visitors to enter the Occupied Palestinian Territories. These initiatives are slowly highlighting the restrictions that are imposed on those wishing to visit Palestinians and challenge the apartheid situation that is unfolding daily. The more that the isolation and suffocation of the West Bank becomes a global issue whereby governments are forced to take note, as their citizens also experience unjust restrictions on their movement, the hope remains that the unlawful and unjust occupation will weaken and one day be challenged into submission through acts of popular resistance such as these.



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