“Over 120 passengers were denied entry and are awaiting deportation for security reasons, they will leave within the next 24-48 hours,” Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld was quoted by Reuters as saying.
The activists were part of the pro-Palestinian “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, and organized the “flytilla” to Israel after Greece in collusion with Israel slashed their hopes of sailing to the Gaza Strip.
Their sole intention was to express solidarity with Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and to protest against Israeli border policies.
Two American women, who flew to Israel from Greece, are among the deported.
Authorities say they had identified the flights with activists onboard and diverted them from the international terminal to an adjacent one so that security officials could arrest them.
Several left-wing Israeli activists who tried to raise “Welcome to Palestine” signs were also arrested in the Ben Gurion Airport’s arrivals hall on Friday.
Hundreds of activists planned to fly to Israel on Friday on a peaceful mission to express solidarity with the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and to protest against Israeli border policies.
But Israeli officials preempted the foreign activists’ campaign by releasing a list to international airlines requesting them to block 342 passengers for their pro-Palestinian activities.
“Israel has given airlines a list of 342 unwanted people, warning them that they will be immediately turned back at the expense of the companies,” Immigration spokeswoman Sabine Hadad said.
The Israeli measure stopped some 200 activists from flying to Tel Aviv.
In a statement, the organizers of the “flytilla” campaign condemned the Israeli pressure on airlines, saying the action shows restrictions on access to Palestinian areas. They have also threatened legal action.