The deaths and injuries that resulted from the so-called Freedom Flotilla’s attempts to break Israel’s blockade on Gaza are tragic. The international community’s condemnation of Israel for the violence is predictable. Indeed, the purpose of the flotilla’s mission was to gain publicity for their anti-Israel activities and to attempt to portray Israel in a poor light. They have succeeded, but at a terrible price.
Most of those condemning Israel did so before waiting to hear the facts. For those interested in facts and thoughts, here are a few:
- If the flotilla organizers’ objective was to provide Gaza with goods, they could, and would, have given their cargo to Israel for delivery. Tons of goods are delivered to Gaza each day through Israel’s checkpoints, and Israel committed to delivering the flotilla’s goods prior to their attempt at breaking the blockade.
- If the organizers were truly on a humanitarian mission, they would have accepted the Shalit family’s request to take letters and aid to Gilad Shilat, the Israeli soldier who has been held for over three years without visits and in violation of international conventions.
- If the flotilla’s purpose was to break the blockade and enter Gaza with goods, the organizers could work to convince Hamas to comply with the International Quartet’s condition that they recognize Israel, stop terror, and agree to abide by prior Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Israel has committed to ending the blockade if the Quartet’s conditions are met. Without Hamas’ meeting those conditions, Israel must enforce the blockade in order to ensure that weapons and materials that can be used to create rockets are not brought into Gaza.
- Egypt also enforces a blockade on its border with Gaza. If the flotilla organizers are concerned with getting goods into Gaza rather than just generating anti-Israel publicity, they should be working to convince the Egyptians, who profess a concern with the welfare of Palestinians, to eliminate their blockade.
- Independent journalists, including some Palestinian journalists, have confirmed that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
- Much has been made of the fact that the Israeli action took place in international waters. International law permits a country with a blockade during a time of war to enforce the blockade in international waters. Hamas and Israel are at war. Hamas has declared its intention to destroy Israel. It has targeted over 7,000 rockets at Israel.
- The Israeli commanders repeatedly asked the flotilla to comply with the blockade and to proceed to Ashdod, the Israeli port. The Israelis were not prepared for, and did not want, violence. That five of the flotilla boats were directed to Ashdod peacefully is proof of the Israelis peaceful intentions. Videos on the sixth boat clearly show the flotilla members clubbing and otherwise injuring the Israeli soldiers as they boarded the ship.
- Hamas took power in 2007 through a bloody coup. Those who opposed Hamas’ rule were shot in the kneecaps and tossed out of windows. Hamas subjugates women, oppresses gays, limits free speech, and kills and maims any and all who oppose it. The flotilla organizers call themselves the “Free Gaza” movement. If they were true to their name, they would be working with the world community to free the citizens of Gaza from the tyranny of Hamas.
All loss of life is tragic and regrettable. The loss of nine lives aboard the Gaza Flotilla is doubly tragic, as the flotilla’s activities that caused the deaths were totally unnecessary, counter to efforts to stop extremism and terrorism, and exploited by those who hate Israel and Jews to further their cause.
Alan L. Edelstein has worked in government relations in California for 30 years and is president of Edelstein Strategies, an international firm specializing in communications, government relations, and political and business strategy development. He currently splits his time between Sacramento, CA and Jerusalem.