This is a press release by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, based in Gaza, denouncing Israel for preventing solidarity activists from across Europe traveling to the occupied Palestinian territories. PCHR Condemns Banning of Dozens of European Solidarity Activists by Israel from traveling to the oPt

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the prevention of dozens of international solidarity activists participating in the ‘Welcome to Palestine Campaign” from entering Israel by the Israeli police.

We also condemn their detention as they arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport, imprisoning and subjecting them to cruel and inhumane treatment. PCHR calls upon the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and compel them to allow these activists to have access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt).

Activists have the right to express their solidarity with the Palestinian just cause. Their rights should not be violated by Israel or other countries, which granted security facilities to Israel and took measures against them in their airports and through their airlines to prevent activists from access to the oPt.

Hundreds of international solidarity activists were supposed to arrive at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel on Sunday, 15 April 2012, to participate in the Welcome to Palestine Campaign and express solidarity with Palestinians and their just cause.

However, the Israeli authorities took very strict measures aimed at preventing those activists from entering Israel, including sending lists with the names of some activists to international airlines to obstruct their traveling to Israel. Additionally, the Israeli authorities declared a state of high alert at the Ben Gurion International Airport in preparation for the arrival of the activists.

Media sources reported that the Israeli police blocked 43 of them and arrested another 31, held them in prisons in Israel and then deported them to their countries. The Israeli authorizes used violence to prevent activists from accessing Israel. A video published in the media showed an Israeli officer attacking an international activist in the Jordan Valley as the activist was participating in a march on bikes which was organized as part of solidarity activities with the Palestinian cause.

It should be noted that IOF have been preventing international human rights activists wishing to observe human rights violations committed by IOF in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, from entering the oPt for several years. In July 2011, IOF prevented hundreds of international solidarity activists from accessing the West Bank through al-Karama International Crossing Point on the Jordanian border or the Ben Gurion International Airport.

PCHR reiterates its condemnation of Israel’s actions against solidarity activists and:

1. Totally supports the efforts exerted by international solidarity activists in support of the Palestinian cause. PCHR appreciates the role played by these activists who are eyewitnesses to crimes committed by IOF against Palestinian civilians. PCHR calls upon international organizations, including human rights organizations, bar associations and international solidarity committees to engage more actively in the prosecution of Israeli war criminals and to urge their governments to bring those criminals to court.

2. Disapproves the position of European airlines that surrendered to Israeli claims and cancelled bookings of dozens of international solidarity activists who intended to travel to the oPt via the Ben Gurion International Airport.