JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel deployed hundreds of police Sunday at its main airport to detain activists flying in to protest the country's occupation of Palestinian areas, defying vigorous Israeli government efforts to block their arrival.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said hundreds of protesters were expected to land at Ben-Gurion International Airport in the course of the day. The police contingent at the airport was reinforced to deal with possible unrest or disruptions, he said.
By late morning, two protesters — one from Canada and another from Portugal — were denied entry and would be placed on return flights, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said.
Israel is jittery about the prospect of large numbers of protesters arriving because of deadly confrontations with pro-Palestinian activists in the past, notably a naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May 2010.
The fly-in's effect has been diluted by airlines that canceled the reservations of at least 100 known activists under pressure from Israel.
Haddad said Israel had sent a list of suspected activists to international airlines, asking the carriers to block them from boarding Israel-bound flights. It warned the airlines they would have to cover the cost of the activists' return flights, and threatened unspecified sanctions on airlines if they did not comply, she said.
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