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Israel stops 'fly-in' protests against its West Bank border policies

Airlines cancel flights amid warnings protesters will be deported. Hundreds of police officers deployed to protect Tel Aviv airport.

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An Israeli border policeman stands next to the international arrivals board at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. Hundreds of Israeli police, many undercover, are at the airport to block the arrival of activists taking part in a 'Welcome to Palestine' fly-in. (DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel has moved to block pro-Palestinian activists planning a "fly-in" to Tel Aviv by giving airlines the names of activists they said would be barred from entering the country.

Reuters quotes an Interior Ministry spokeswoman as saying that they had made it clear the airlines would have to shoulder the costs of sending any deported activists back to their port of origin.

Around 1,200 Palestinian rights activists, mainly from Europe, the United States, and Canada, have bought tickets to travel to Israel today, as part of the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, RT explains.  They were then planning to travel to various destinations around the West Bank.

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The 'fly-in' is intended to draw attention to what the activists claim are "prejudicial Israeli border policies" that lead many international visitors coming to Palestinian areas to lie about their destinations, CNN says.

 Already four people who arrived from Paris have been detained in Israel and dozens of activists have been barred from boarding flights in Paris and Brussels, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Israel News says that another passenger who arrived from Jordan had been detained, and two people - from Canada and Portugal - were to be deported.

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It adds that hundreds of unarmed police officers had been deployed to guard Ben Gurion Airport.

The "Welcome to Palestine" protest has told Haaretz that more than 60% of its activists had received notifications from airlines including Lufthansa, Air France and Easyjet, that their flights had been canceled.

"It is very unfortunate that these companies bowed to Israeli pressure,"spokesman Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh is quoted as saying, adding that they were considering legal action.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/israel-and-palestine/120415/israel-stops-fly-protests-against-its-