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100 activists prevented from flying to Israel

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian activist said Saturday that a number of international airlines canceled flights for at least 100 people scheduled to arrive in Israel's main airport for a mass fly-in of pro-Palestinian activists, while Israel said those activists who manage to make it to the airport would be deported.

Campaign organizer Amira Musallam said activists from around the world notified her by email that Lufthansa, Jet2.com and Air France canceled their flight reservations.

EasyJet also announced it would refuse to fly passengers which Israel has marked on a no-entry list. Airline spokeswoman Anna Knowles said only a small number of passengers were affected.

Israeli television reported most airlines would not fly activists to Israel and only a trickle would arrive, though Musallam, the Palestinian organizer, said she still expects hundreds of activists to arrive beginning Saturday evening and continuing through Sunday.

The "Welcome to Palestine" project seeks to raise attention to how Israel controls access into Palestinian areas.

Visitors can only reach the West Bank through Israeli-controlled land crossings or Israeli airports. At any given time, hundreds of foreigners are in the West Bank, including activists, aid workers, volunteers, tourists and religious pilgrims. Israel limits entry through its border crossing to the Gaza Strip to foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers only.

Travelers who wish to visit the Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank often report being detained and questioned, sometimes for hours, by Israeli border authorities — unless they fib about their intended destination.