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Moroccan social media activists condemn Israel’s direct flights to Marrakesh after normalization

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Israeli tourists arrive at the Marrakech-Menara International Airport on the first direct commercial flight between Israel and Morocco, on July 25, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Thousands of Moroccan social media activists have launched a campaign to express their resentment over direct commercial flights between Israel and Morocco’s Marrakesh, more than seven months after the Tel Aviv regime and the North African normalized diplomatic relations in a US-brokered deal.

The online activists have started various hashtags, including “Zionists are not welcome in my country” and “No to Zionists,” in protest at the Moroccan government's decision to welcome the first group of Israeli tourists, Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network reported.

They firmly rejected all forms of normalization with the Israeli regime, and voiced unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.

The Moroccan Front for Supporting Palestine and Rejecting Normalization movement called on Moroccan citizens to participate in the electronic campaign, and to emphatically reject the arrival of Israeli tourists in Marrakesh.

“I watched videos of receiving a group of [Israeli] tourists, whose regime has usurped Palestinian lands, taken away the lives of Palestinians, and desecrated the sanctities of the Palestinian nation. I would like to ask those who were pleased with this overblown celebration: “How do you feel in front of hundreds of [Palestinian] victims, including women and children, and about destruction of their farming lands and buildings?” an activist wrote on his Twitter page.

“Dancing with child murderers to our music and raising the flag of an apartheid regime is DISGUSTING. Have tourists from other countries ever raised their flags? Have some integrity. It is noteworthy that Moroccans stand with Palestine,” another tweeted.

Two Israeli carriers on Sunday launched nonstop commercial flights to Marrakesh from Tel Aviv.

Israir flight 61 took off at 8:15 a.m. (0515 GMT) for the 5 1/2 hour flight, with stewards wearing traditional Moroccan garb and serving Moroccan food.

El Al Israel Airlines flight 553 took off at 11:35 a.m. (0835 GMT).

El Al, Israel's flag carrier, said it will operate up to five flights a week to Morocco on Boeing 737 planes.

Smaller rival Israir said it would operate two flights a week on its route to Marrakesh.

Israel's Arkia and Royal Air Maroc are also expected to start flights in the next month.

Israel and Morocco agreed on December 10 last year to normalize relations in a deal brokered with the help of the administration of former US president Donald Trump, making the North African country the fourth Arab state this year to strike a normalization deal with the regime. The others were the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.

Trump sealed the agreement in a phone call with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. As part of the agreement, the US president agreed to recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara region, which has been at the center of a dispute with neighboring Algeria.

The Algerian Foreign Ministry later rejected Trump’s stance, saying the US decision “has no legal effect because it contradicts UN resolutions, especially UN Security Council resolutions on Western Sahara.”

The Algeria-backed and pro-independence Polisario Front has also rejected “in the strongest terms” Trump’s stance on the disputed Western Sahara Desert region, stating that the outgoing US president attempted to give to Morocco “that which does not belong to it.”

The agreement with Israel also drew condemnation from the Palestinians.

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