By Amira Hass
“Israel prevented some 100 pro-Palestinian activists from entering the West
Bank on Sunday evening from Jordan at the Allenby Bridge crossing. The
demonstrators, from France, Belgium and other European countries, bore an
official invitation from the governor of Bethlehem, a senior Fatah official
named Abdel-Fattah Hamaiel. The activists were carrying gifts including
writing implements for the children of Bethlehem in honor of the beginning
of the school year on Monday.
The demonstrators arrived at the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River in
two buses, but when they reached the Israeli side they were not allowed to
At the crossing, an Israeli official in civilian clothes collected all the
passports from the passengers on the first bus and returned them after 10
minutes – all with a “denied entry” stamp.
The second bus was not even allowed to approach the Israeli side of the
crossing, and the passports of its passengers were not even collected. The
passengers got off the bus and demanded that Israeli officials explain why
they were being denied entry, but they were ordered back on the bus; the
driver was told to turn around.
Many of the activists had previously participated in such events as the
annual Welcome to Palestine “flytilla.” Their goal is to stress the
Palestinian people’s right to host visitors from other countries that have
diplomatic relations with Israel as they see fit – the same right accorded
to Israeli citizens.
The Jordanian official in charge of the Allenby crossing met with the
activists in his office before they attempted to enter Israel, and said he
knew of their arrival and of the invitation. But he advised them that
Israel might prevent their entry, noting that Jordan played no part in that
Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD