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Welcome to Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, for Tuesday April 17, 2012.

Israel barred most of the 1200 expected visitors of The Welcome to Palestine campaign to enter through the Tel Aviv Airport on Sunday, meanwhile Palestinian prisoners start an open-ended hunger strike, these stories and more coming up, stay tuned.

At least 52 visitors were arrested at the airport, dozens were deported, hundreds were not allowed to board airplanes in their home countries and less than ten only managed to enter to the occupied Palestinian territories. All those were visitors of the Welcome to Palestine campaign who decided to declare their intentions when asked that they are coming to visit Palestine and the Palestinians.

The organizers said the visitors were supposed to attend the inauguration of a local school in Bethlehem, help renovating water cisterns of Palestinian farmers and visit in Palestine to show them the reality of the situation in the Palestinian territories.

Israel on the other hand said those visitors are coming participate in illegal protests and activities.

The bulk of the visitors received cancelation letters from the airlines after the Israeli immigration authorities advised all airlines with a blacklist of passengers and threatened to sanction the airlines if they do not comply.

Those who managed to enter the Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv were denied entry and detained. Few, who were not questioned at the airport managed to go through the airport security and then continue their route to Bethlehem.

Israeli online newspaper Haaretz reported that 470 of the 1200 persons that Israel labeled as “pro-Palestinian”, part of the Welcome To Palestinian campaign, were not activists, two of them were a French diplomat and his wife.

Haaretz said that %40 of those marked as part of the campaign were just added to the blacklist of the Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security) without any proof that they were connected in any way to the Welcome To Palestine campaign.

The heat over the denial of entry to hundreds of international visitors was heightened when an Israeli military commander was caught on tape hitting a Danish cyclist in the face with his M-16 rifle, knocking him down.

An Israeli army spokesperson said the officer will be suspended, however a report published on Haaretz says that precedents indicate that this officer will unlikely be dismissed.

According to Haaretz, Human rights organizations say this proves that although the military establishment condemns such violence when it occurs, it does not prosecute perpetrators to the full extent of the law.

In other news, at least 1200 Palestinian prisoners started on Tuesday an open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails protesting what they described as humiliating measures Israeli jail authorities take against them. 2300 others also declared they would fast for one day in solidarity with the striking prisoners as the longest-ever hunger striker Khader Adnan is due to be released from jail on Tuesday.

The prisoners have around 24 demands including the immediate release of all administrative detainees and enhancing the food quality and quantity in addition to stoping the strip-searches and to enhance the family visitation conditions and end the solitary confinement of at least 20 prisoners.

April 17 is marked by the Palestinians as the prisoners day and on this day Palestinians in different parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip organize solidarity activities. On his part, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded the Palestinian prisoners to remain united and promised them that the prisoners issue will top the Palestinian political agenda and that they will go to the United Nations again.

And that’s all for today from IMEMC News. This was the Tuesday April 17th daily roundup of news from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Please join us again tomorrow for new reports from Palestine. For more news and updates please visit our website at Today’s report has been brought to you by Husam Qassis and me George Rishmawi