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The Flotilla, Gilad Shalit and the Friends of Genocide
Posted By David Meir-Levi On July 5, 2011 @ 12:11 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 111 Comments
Many media, academic and political responses to Israel’s boarding of the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010 were characterized by inaccurate language and factual errors that misrepresented the “Freedom Flotilla” confrontation and supported an unwarranted delegitimization of Israel.
Despite overwhelming video and documentary evidence of the flotilla activists’ radical agenda and their affinity for violence, all too many commentators asserted that the flotilla of Gaza-bound vessels sailed on a purely “humanitarian” mission, and Israel’s interception on the high seas was in violation of international law and the maritime laws of war. Bona fide scholars of international law supported Israel’s actions and debunked the anti-Israel accusations.
The basis for the legality of Israel’s interception of the blockade runners was the fact that Hamas, the ruling force in the Gaza Strip and an organization condemned as an illegal enemy terrorist entity by the US Department of State and the European Union, was in an active state of war with Israel. In wartime, blockades are legal according to international law.
Hamas officials have repeatedly declared publicly that the goal of their terrorism is the obliteration of Israel. Hamas’ charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and since its very inception, Hamas has declared war on Israel and has mercilessly attacked Israeli soldiers and civilians. When Israel unilaterally and unconditionally evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005, Hamas declared a victory for terrorism and a commitment to maintaining the terror war against Israel. Hamas matched its words with suicide bombers, sniper attacks, RPG attacks, kidnappings and thousands of Qassam rockets. Given Hamas’ commitment to Israel’s destruction, and its relentless terrorist attacks, one must conclude that Hamas is at war with Israel.
Some have argued that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority are yet “state actors” and the maritime laws of war apply only to “state actors.” Thus, Israel’s blockade, being against non-state actors, is in violation of maritime laws of war. But this is a deeply flawed argument, comparable to declaring that since terrorists do not wear uniforms, they must be treated as civilians rather than combatants.
In response to Hamas’ endless and relentless terrorist war, Israel’s blockade is a legitimate restrained and defensive military action; and thus Israel’s interdiction of the Mavi Marmara in May, 2010, was rational, legal, and moral. International law acknowledges that all sovereign nations have the right to defend against aggressors, and Israel has a moral duty to protect its citizens.
Now, just a bit more than a year later, we are witness to a rerun of this same anti-Israel endeavor. Originally planned for departure in August, 2010, this retread of the “Freedom Flotilla” promises to be bigger and better and more impactful. As though no one learned anything from the first flotilla fiasco, this next generation of “human rights activists,” including a host of American participants on a boat bearing a resonant American name, has launched a new and improved Gaza flotilla 2. As did their predecessors, today’s blockade runners position themselves as “peace activists” bent on rescuing the oppressed Arabs of the Gaza Strip by breaking Israel’s “illegal” blockade, averting a looming humanitarian crisis with desperately-needed medical and food supplies, and helping to end Israel’s “illegal occupation” – all pure fiction.
Thanks to the persistence, courage, and sagacity of one lone law firm, the legality of Israel’s blockade and of its defensive actions against blockade runners are now so well established that Greece, Turkey, and international insurance companies are having second thoughts about support for, and maritime insurance of, this new Gaza flotilla. Even the first flotilla’s most ardent supporter, the Turkish terrorist organization IHH, has withdrawn support, perhaps under Turkish government pressure due to the events in Syria. It seems that flotilla 2 may also be in violation of U.S. law, thus rendering participants and material supporters vulnerable to legal action. Ms. Darshan-Leitner’s legal arguments have found agreement and support in other quarters. Secretary Clinton and the U.S. Department of State have issued a stern warning to the flotilla participants, indicating that they may face arrest, prosecution and deportation by Israel. Two members of Congress asserted that American flotilla members could face prosecution in the USA.
As a result, at least one third of the original participating ships have withdrawn from the flotilla and will not try to breach Israel’s blockade.
But what about the flotilla’s putative mission to avert a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip? Poverty does exist in the Gaza Strip. There is no perceptible economic development, no industry other than smuggling and the manufacturing of rockets, and there is little opportunity. But the deprivation that Gazans suffer is by no means a humanitarian crisis. Socio-economic data show that Gazans enjoy a higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality than the world average.
On April 20, 2011, well in advance of flotilla 2’s departure, the International Red Cross agreed. Ample photos show shops filled with food and bazaars over-flowing with fruits, vegetable and meats. Some of these photos are published in Arab news sources as well as in American ones.
Recent reports indicate that two new luxury hotels are set to open on the Gaza beach, thousands of new cars ply the roads, there are two new shopping malls, hundreds of new homes are under construction, and the hot-houses left intact by Israel when it evacuated all Israelis from the Gaza Strip in 2005 are now run by Hamas and produce enough fruits and vegetables that Israeli imports are tapering off. Even Palestinian Authority officials have exposed Hamas’ ruse, acknowledging that 56% of the PA budget goes to Gaza, and branding the “humanitarian crisis” as a fabrication of Hamas propaganda to provide an excuse for smuggling war materials into the strip.[i]
Moreover, established and efficient mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip. The border between Egypt and Gaza is now open, so cargo could be off-loaded at the Egyptian port of el-Arish, just west of the Gaza Strip. Assistance can also be delivered at the Israeli port of Ashdod, where cargo can be off-loaded and inspected, and then delivered to Gaza. Far from prohibiting the entry of food, water, medicine and humanitarian supplies, Israel facilitates the daily transfer of thousands of tons of aid that residents of Gaza should receive for free, except that Hamas officials confiscate and sell them for money that they then use to buy weapons for their terrorist activities. Hamas’ aid theft became so blatant that even the UN had to step in on behalf of the deprived and impoverished Gazans.
In sum, Israel’s blockade is legal. Breaching that blockade is a violation of international maritime law and an act of war entailing considerable risk of physical harm and legal prosecution. There is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and the poverty and privation there is in large part due to the depredations of the Hamas terrorist government against its own people. So if the aim of the flotilla were to help the residents of the Gaza Strip, they could do so by docking at el-Arish or Ashdod, without perpetrating an act of war against Israel by breaching its legal blockade of the Gaza Strip. And if these “human rights activists” were really concerned about privation and suffering, why are they not aiming their flotilla at Syria where thousands have died in the past few months as president-for-life Bashar el-Assad drowns his “Arab Spring” in the blood of unarmed Syrian protesters, or at Sudan or Iran or Iraq or Arabia where human rights violations are galactic in scope and severity?
So what is the real goal of these “human rights activists”? Here an old adage can come to our aid: “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” Let’s see with whom these so-called activists are sailing.
The key organizer of flotilla 2, Mohammed Sawalha, has ties with Hamas. Two other members of the flotilla’s “peace activists,” Amin Abu Rashad and Mohammad Hannoun, are known Hamas members. The IHH, the primary organization supporting the flotilla before it disassociated itself from the endeavor, is a known Muslim terrorist organization, and its leader, Bulent Yildirim, has well-known terrorist affiliations. Another leading organizer of flotilla 2 is the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which supports, aids and abets Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups. The Free Palestine Movement, founded by ISM activists, supports the 2011 flotilla, promoting the claim that the flotilla is a non-violent effort with humanitarian goals. Greta Berlin, one of the flotilla participants, is a cheerful-looking 68-year-old American who is a member of the ISM and an energetic, vocal supporter of Hamas. Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, long-time pro-Palestinian activists who support Arab terrorism against Israel, are also among the organizers of the flotilla.
We need to recall that Hamas is a self-declared terrorist organization whose founding document unabashedly avows that its ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel and the genocide of all Jews worldwide. So it is clear that the leaders and members and armed terrorists who carry out Hamas’ attacks, those who offer financial support, those who offer political and moral justification, and those who misrepresent Hamas as a humanitarian organization struggling courageously against an oppressive occupation, are all active participants in Hamas’ heinous endeavor. They want to engage in war against Israel.
And the same is true of flotilla 2’s “human rights activists:” Based on the company they keep, it is clear that they are passive participants, but participants nonetheless. By joining the terrorists and terrorist supporters in the flotilla, they are engaging both in an act of war against Israel and in political street theatre at its worst. By striking a political and PR blow against Israel, they are aiding and abetting one of our century’s most vicious and ruthless terrorist organizations. By setting sail with those who support mass murder and genocide, they have wittingly or unwittingly joined the ranks of the 21st century’s avatar of Hitler’s little helpers.
And speaking of active participation, it is important to note that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) stood staunchly on the side of Hamas for decades, until this year. The ICRC has a long history of whitewashing Hamas terrorism and condemning Israel for its restrained defensive actions against terror attacks. In 2010 the ICRC supported flotilla 1, condemning Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip because, they asserted, it choked off economic development, caused unemployment, poverty and warfare, and punished the entire civilian population for acts for which they bear no responsibility. In the ICRC’s judgment, Israel’s blockade constituted collective punishment in clear violation of international humanitarian law, and its illegal closure of the Gaza Strip should be ended.
For more than two decades the world’s paragon of human rights shamelessly underwrote a sizable portion of the Gaza Strip’s economy with humanitarian aid, passively complicit as Hamas operatives confiscated much of that aid and sold it to the impoverished population that should have received it at no cost. As noted above, only in 2009 did the ICRC finally go public with the scandal of its complicity in humanitarian aid used to fund genocidal terrorism. The ICRC’s support for Hamas constitutes perhaps one of the world’s most galactic cases of hypocrisy.
For five years, the ICRC stood silently by as the Hamas captors of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit held him in isolation, contrary to international law. For the last two years, there has not even been any sign that Shalit is still alive. When the ICRC finally issued a statement on June 23, 2011, requesting that Hamas enable Shalit to contact his family, scores of Gazan Arabs assaulted the Red Cross offices in Gaza City, pelting the building with eggs, destroying a security guard cabin, and smashing the windows with stones. Hamas made no reply to the Red Cross request. A similarly violent demonstration, replete with eggs, rocks and shoes, occurred six months earlier when the French foreign minister made the mistake of expressing sympathy for Shalit, an Israeli-French dual national, during her visit to the Gaza Strip; and this despite the fact that she had made an impassioned plea for Israel to end its blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory. The foreign minister, although under heavy guard, was almost hit by a shoe.
So one might ask the question, why does Israel enable the ICRC to do its “humanitarian work” in the Gaza Strip, knowing full well that not only does much of this work actually aid and abet and support Hamas in its genocidal goals, but also that the ICRC for years did nothing about its other humanitarian obligation in the Gaza Strip, namely, ensuring humane treatment for the one lone Israeli POW. And after the ICRC finally made one flaccid belated attempt on behalf of Shalit, it quietly accepted Hamas’ rebuff?
Perhaps it is not in Israel’s best interest to allow the Red Cross into the Gaza Strip; or perhaps the ICRC should consider some action to protest Hamas’ refusal to abide by international laws regarding POWs, not to mention attacking Red Cross offices with stones and eggs.
The evidence for the absence of crisis in the Gaza Strip is overwhelming. UN observers have stated bluntly that there is no lack of food, medicine or other humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip, although some building materials are in short supply. The Palestinian Authority agrees. This reality is gradually making its way into mainstream media (see here, here, here), as some journalists discover Olympic-sized swimming pools and gourmet restaurants, as well as grocery stores proffering Israeli yogurt and Cocoa Puffs and well-stocked pharmacies in the impoverished Gaza Strip.
The most comprehensive statistics come from a recent JCPA summary, with documented supplies entering the Gaza Strip from Israel:
Health: 4,883 tons of medical equipment and medicines entered Gaza in 2009 in coordination with the Palestinian Authority and international agencies:
Electricity: Israel continued to supply electricity to Gaza from its power plant in Ashkelon. In addition, 41 truckloads of equipment were transferred for the maintenance of the electrical system in Gaza. Between April and October 2009, Siemens carried out maintenance work on the power system in Gaza, to which more than 100 million liters of diesel fuel were delivered for its operation.
Communications: 45 truckloads of communication equipment were sent to Gaza at the request of the Palestinian Authority.
Water and sewage: 95 truckloads of equipment for water and sewage systems, as well as 3,720 tons of chloride for water purification, were transferred during 2009.
The private sector: 77 percent of the contents of trucks sent into Gaza in 2009 were for the private sector. 257 Palestinian businessmen exited Gaza to Israel, the West Bank, and abroad. 10,871 head of cattle were transferred to Gaza, mainly for the Ramadan and Eid al-Adha holidays. In preparation for winter, 3,607 tons of glass for windows was transferred to Gaza.
Money: Over NIS 1.1 billion (approximately $300 million) was transferred to Gaza in 2009 to fund salaries and the activities of international organizations. In addition, NIS 40 million (approximately $10 million) in worn banknotes were replaced.
Humanitarian aid: 141,390 tons of humanitarian aid were transferred by the international community through Israel, including 115,043 tons of food and 2,990 tons of medicines and medical equipment.
UNRWA: 3,282,000 liters of fuel and diesel were transferred for use by UNRWA. In addition, special equipment for summer camps, including swimming pools, ice cream machines, musical instruments, and sports equipment were transferred to UNRWA.
Agricultural export: The export of flowers and strawberries was approved as part of a joint project with the government of the Netherlands. Since the beginning of the project, more than 7 million flowers and 54 tons of strawberries were exported.
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