France warn citizens to beware Tel Aviv airport trouble

7th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

France warned its citizens Thursday of possible trouble at Tel Aviv airport if they take part in a so-called "flytilla" expected to bring hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters to Israel.

"France is worried that incidents and excesses may happen at Tel Aviv airport on Friday July 8 within the framework of the 'Welcome to Palestine' campaign," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

He noted that Israel would not let any persons it saw as posing a threat to its security enter its territory, and that some campaigners might be detained if they refused to be deported.

French diplomatic officials in Israel were "fully mobilised" to provide help to any French citizens who might require this, Valero told reporters.

Israel was battening down the hatches at its main airport on Thursday, awaiting hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters as Greece blocked the last boat in a scuppered campaign to ship aid to the Gaza Strip.

Organisers of the "Welcome to Palestine" campaign, which some describe as a "flytilla" in reference to a parallel maritime protest flotilla, say the 600 or so activists -- more than half of them French nationals -- were to spend a week visiting Palestinian families and have "totally peaceful intentions".

But the Israeli authorities appear to be gearing up for confrontation.

Hundreds of police were on standby around the airport as press reports warned of various disaster scenarios, such as activists setting themselves on fire or attacking Israelis on incoming flights.

© 2011 AFP

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