Nine campaigners for Palestinian rights from Britain flew into Manchester airport on Thursday evening, after deportation from Israel for supporting Welcome to Palestine 2012.
The nine, five from Scotland and four from England, were detained by Israeli security forces at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion international airport on Sunday en route to Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
The arrests of over 40 international solidarity campaigners climaxed the Israeli government operation to prevent the world from participating in Welcome to Palestine 2012 events and observing Land Day, when Palestinians commemorate zionism's theft of their homeland.
The Israeli government had circulated a blacklist of names to airlines flying to Tel Aviv, ordering them to cancel bookings.
About 100 French and Belgian citizens were prevented from flying from Zaventem airport in Brussels.
Thirteen British residents were told by Jet2 staff at Manchester airport that their tickets were cancelled and that, since it had a no-refund policy, they could whistle for their money.
However, it had to back down from this outrageous position after an impromptu demonstration and potential bad publicity arising from Labour MP Gerald Kaufman's public comment that he was "disgusted by the airline's decision to keep your money."
Israeli daily Haaretz obtained a copy of the letter to airlines sent out by Amnon Shmueli of the Israeli Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority.
Shmueli wrote: "In light of statements by radical pro-Palestinian activists indicating that they intend to arrive on commercial flights from abroad in order to disturb the peace and confront security forces at Ben Gurion international airport and at other points of friction, it has been decided to forbid their entrance, in accordance with my authority according to the law of entry to Israel."
It warned the airlines that failure to comply with Israel's blacklist would render them liable to sanctions.
Shmueli's claim, which echoed similar calumnies from Israeli politicians, is a blatant lie. Welcome to Palestine had no interest in demonstrating in Tel Aviv airport and wished participants to proceed as unobtrusively as possible to Bethlehem.
The "little town's" mayor Victor Batarseh had welcomed the international initiative, emphasising its peaceful nature.
"This mission is a peaceful mission with noble causes that aim to build bridges instead of walls, to put a corner stone for an international school in Bethlehem and to make educational and cultural activities to support Palestinian children.
"We hope all the free world would facilitate the mission of this campaign and give them all the support they need," he wrote.
The Welcome to Palestine 2012 was backed by a letter from influential and respected individuals, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former MP Tony Benn, US campaigner and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, Palestinian ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian, South African liberation movement leader Ronnie Kasrils, Israeli academic and peace activist Nurit Peled, Palestinian-American businessman Sam Bahour and Egyptian feminist writer Nawal al-Sadaawi.
They noted that Welcome to Palestine 2012 would again "challenge Israel's policy of isolating the West Bank while the settler paramilitaries and army commit brutal crimes against a virtually defenceless Palestinian civilian population."
The signatories urged governments "to support the right of Palestinians to receive visitors and the right of their own citizens to visit Palestine openly."
And they asked the occupying power to allow visitors "to pass through Tel Aviv airport without hindrance and to proceed to the West Bank to take part in a project there for children to benefit from the right to education."
A number of politicians in Britain were also supportive of this moral initiative, with Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray calling the persecution of the Palestinian people "shameful" and praising the planned delegation for giving Palestinians "the hope that there are people and countries that care."
Edinburgh North and Leith MP Mark Lazarowicz said: "Palestinians should be able to enjoy the normal access and contact with visitors which citizens of other countries would regard as a right."
But the appeal fell on deaf ears in the governments of not only Israel but those countries that support the zionist state in its repressive and expansionist activities, including our own.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took it upon himself to tell pro-Palestinian activists what issues they should protest about.
"What are they doing here?" he asked disingenuously, as if the reasons weren't patently obvious.
"If they want to check the issue of human rights, they should go to Syria. Maybe they can help stop the slaughter of thousands of innocents. They should go to Iran and stop the stoning of women."
Embarrassingly for him, his exercise in whataboutery coincided with the broadcast of video footage showing a high-ranking Israeli officer smashing an unarmed pro-Palestinian protester in the face with his rifle.
The British government was entirely unhelpful towards Welcome to Palestine, with the Foreign Office saying that it was "aware" of the campaign but opposed to efforts to reach Bethlehem via Israel, even though military occupation means that there is no other route.
The Israeli government may congratulate itself on impeding solidarity campaigners' visit to Bethlehem, but its growing international isolation can only intensify in light of this repression.