Israeli government officials used Facebook to help prevent scores of pro-Palestine activists from boarding planes going from Europe to Tel-Aviv to support a “Welcome to Palestine” solidarity event.
The activists had planned to visit the West Bank to back the Palestinian fight for independence and protest at Israeli travel restrictions to and from the disputed territories.
A black list was compiled by the Israeli government to track activists on Facebook, who touted their travel plans on to visit the West Bank, in order to attend the campaign.
Over 300 protestor’s names were sent to Euro-based airlines by Israeli officials and the drive resulted in some 20 people actually being able to make it to Israel but who were detained at the airport.
A reported 310 of the activists were held by Israeli officials in Tel Aviv for questioning, of those 69 were outright denied entry to the country, four were immediately sent back to their homeland and 65 were held until return flights could be arranged.
Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told the Associated Press that the list was comprised of people whom would be considered “provocations” upon arrival. “These people announced on their Internet sites that they planned to come here and cause disruptions, and told their friends. We were able to contact other foreign ministries and simply give them links.” Barring entrance in such cases is “accepted practice in any country,” he added.
Meanwhile organizers of the Pro-Palestine event were up in arms over the bully tactics that were executed by Israeli officials, accusing them of throwing a wrench in a campaign that was scheduled to be a peaceful gathering. The group released a statement calling the moves to prevent activists from reaching Israel “provocative, blackmailing and illegal.”
The Israeli government is keeping close tabs on the online shenanigans of those who plan on using Facebook and other online social networking sites in order to rally anti-Israel events.
The latest episode involving Facebook is not the first time that the Middle Eastern conflict has spilled over onto the social networking site.