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Netanyahu to Gaza flotilla: Did you mean to sail to Syria?

Netanyahu publishes letter to flotilla participants in which he states there is no blockade, while at the same time declaring that Israel will prevent them from reaching Gaza. 

Free Gaza Flotilla (freegaza.org/CC BY SA 2.0)

Activists hold a banner in front of the Gaza Flotilla. (photo: freegaza.org/CC BY SA 2.0)

UPDATE 7:27 A.M.: The IDF intercepted the Marianne ship early morning Monday and and began towing it to the Ashdod Port. No violence or injuries reported.

The “Freedom Flotilla III” is due to approach the Gaza coastline in a matter of hours, sometime overnight Sunday. Its declared mission is to non-violently challenge Israel’s nine-year blockade of the Strip by bringing in medical equipment and other humanitarian aid. It is not expected to actually reach Gaza, as Israel plans to stop the four boats, just as it has done in previous attempts in 2011 and the infamous Mavi Marmara in 2010, which ended with the killing of nine people on board.

Prime Minister Netanyahu published a letter Sunday night that he intends to present to all the participants, in which he sarcastically mocks those aboard (my translation):

It appears you made a wrong turn. Welcome to Israel. Maybe you intended to sail somewhere not too far from here: Syria, where the Assad regime is massacring his people daily, with the support of the lethal Iranian regime.

The letter goes on to detail all the merchandise Israel allows through into Gaza and then insists: “There is no blockade of Gaza. You are welcome to transfer humanitarian aid through Israel. We are not, however, willing to allow weapons to enter Gaza and reach terror groups, as has been done in the past via the sea.”

Netanyahu states that there is no blockade while at the same time declaring that Israel will prohibit the flotilla from reaching Gaza. It is the IDF’s naval blockade of the Strip – deemed legitimate by international law – that enables Israel to force the ships to revert to docking in the port in Ashdod. It is the blockade that allows Israel to shoot at Gaza fisherman on a regular basis. Also, what does the blockade of 1.8 million Palestinians have to do with Syria?

The 2015 flotilla is comprised of four boats, which include 48 human rights activists, journalists, artists, and political figures representing 17 countries. Dr. Bassel Ghattas, a member of Knesset with the Joint List is on board, as is Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia, who came to power after the 2011 popular uprising.

Ghattas sent a letter earlier Sunday addressed to Netanyahu, calling on him to allow the flotilla to reach Gaza. His participation caused an uproar in the Knesset earlier this week, with several MKs calling for his citizenship to be revoked, among them Culture Minister Miri Regev. The Knesset will discuss the matter on Tuesday.

MK Haneen Zoabi, Ghattas’ fellow Balad party member, was on board the Marmara in 2010. Despite attempts to bring criminal charges against her, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that she violated no laws by being on board.

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    1. Sheikh Yahudi

      The Prime Minister makes an excellent point. There is no example in human history when a besieged nation like Israel (or any other kind of a nation for that matter) treated a hostile population with such kindness and consideration. The Arabs should be grateful to the Jews of the Holy Land for treating them infinitely better than their own governments.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, Right

        SY: “There is no example in human history when a besieged nation like Israel”….

        You appear to be mistaking the besiegers for the besieged.

        Not sure why, since only one of those two entities has a navy…..

        Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      Freedom Flotilla? Human rights activists? Oxymorons of gigantic proportions.

      The Freedom Flotilla does not aim to bring in anything but a token amount of materials for Gazans, which could be shipped through normal channels if composed of medical equipment and a few solar panels.

      The flotilla does not aim to free Gazans from Hamas military rule or their violent ideology of Jew hatred, the destruction of the Jewish state and the genocide of the Jewish people as set forth in Hamas’s Charter and espoused regularly by Palestinian spokespersons.

      The Freedom Flotilla aims to end the legal blockade against Gaza which prevents Hamas and Islamic Jihad from importing mass quantities of weapons and more sophisticated and more lethal rockets to wage war and kill Israeli citizens more effectively. The effect of their actions if successful in ending Israel’s legal blockade would be to increase Hamas and Islamic Jihad capabilities and desires to wage war. This has nothing to do with freedoms or human rights for ordinary Gazans. It would only bring greater suffering to both Gazans and Israelis. There would be no freedom from suffering.

      The Freedom Flotilla does not attempt to bring human rights, free speech, freedom of association and assembly to Gazans. The Freedom Flotilla does not aim to provide equal human rights to women in Gaza, to end the practice of honor killing of women, or prevent Islamist culture from controlling what women can do or not. The Freedom Flotilla does not aim to prevent arbitrary arrest, torture and summary execution of Palestinian prisoners by Hamas. The Freedom Flotilla does not aim to permit freedom of political choice and activism in the Gaza strip.

      The Freedom Flotilla is a provocation to demonize the Israeli state and its people for exercising a right of self defence in the face of an extremist, ideological enemy which seeks to obtain the capabilities to destroy the Israeli state and kill its citizens.

      Reply to Comment
      • Marnie

        “The Freedom Flotilla is a provocation to demonize the Israeli state and its people for exercising a right of self defence in the face of an extremist, ideological enemy which seeks to obtain the capabilities to destroy the Israeli state and kill its citizens”.

        No one does a better job of demonizing the zionist state better than the zionist state. Your comment above is without evidence, just hasbara clap-trap. The freedom flotilla is seen as a threat to the zionist state only because it is in support of the Palestinians and anyone who supports the Palestinians is out to harm the zionist state, at least that’s what the zionist state wants its Jewish citizens to believe. This behavior, the paranoia and even the language is straight out of the American south during the violent era of the civil rights struggle and freedom summer. The Southern A. Americans and the northern students going on Greyhound buses to support them and to help to register voters was absolutely terrifying to the Bull Connors, George Wallaces and white citizens councils (AKA KKK) all over the south. “They want our women!!!” “They want to destroy our culture, our way of life”, etc., etc. You’re on the wrong side of history on this one too.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Philos

      The biggest problem with the blockade is not what Israel let’s in, which is usually just enough to prevent humanitarian catastrophe, but that Israel doesn’t let anything or anyone out. This has destroyed the Gazan economy. It is criminal. A total embargo just like the one that throttled Iraq before the US decided to try to finish them off with some “freedom and democracy” bombs. It will be remembered as the crudest interpretation of “carrot and stick” diplomacy and, hopefully, historians will record the collaboration of every single Western government in this crime against humanity.

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        “Israel doesn’t let anything or anyone out.”

        Not true. Cogat shows that on a daily basis Israel allows Gazans into Israel for business, medical and humanitarian purposes. Israel had been allowing students to cross Israel to exit by the Allenby bridge to pursue their studies.

        Let me give you some examples, on June 14th, 2015 1178 Palestinians entered Israel from Gaza. This included the entry of 438 merchants. On June 11, 2015 892 Gazans were allowed to enter Israel, including 441 merchants. On June 10, 2015 there were 904 Gazans allowed to enter Israel including 442 merchants. Gazans are allowed to export agricultural produce to the West Bank and Israel. Gazans can export goods such as furniture to the West Bank. The merchants arrange for import into Gaza of goods on a daily basis.

        Gazan farmers were allowed to attend Israel’s agricultural expo held not long ago.

        What Israel will not allow is for terror or the means of terror to be exported from or imported into the Gaza strip. Egypt has a similar policy which allows for much fewer Gazans to enter Egypt.

        Hamas and Gazans chose to build a new Somalia instead of a Singapore of the middle east. They have suffered the consequences which flow from their choices. If Gaza disarmed they would have free access to world markets for import and export. Instead Hamas and Islamic Jihad are busy rearming, rebuilding tunnels, testing missile and holding massive army drills within sight of the Israeli border.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Yeah, Right

      The claim that this blockade is “deemed legitimate by international law” is dubious at best.

      Note that the word used was “legitimate”, and not “legal”.

      The blockade is clearly illegal under international law, which only allows a naval blockade during times of “armed conflict at sea”.

      And there simply is no “armed conflict” presently going on between the Gaza Strip and the state of Israel.

      There are the occasional Biff! Bash! Shooting-fish-in-a-barrel assaults by the IDF on the residents of the Gaza Strip.

      Sure, there are, and I don’t argue about the IDF’s right to blockade the strip *during* those oh-so-one-sided assaults, since each one represents an “armed conflict”.

      But Israel eventually calls those assaults to an end, and does so by declaring a “ceasefire”.

      Well, sorry, but a “ceasefire” means “no armed conflict”.

      And absent an “armed conflict” the IDF can’t instigate a naval blockade on anyone, precisely because naval blockades are only legal during an armed conflict.

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        Yeah right is yeah wrong, or lying, again. Yeah Wrong stated:

        “Note that the word used was “legitimate”, and not “legal”.”

        The UN Palmer Commission at page 38:

        “The first issue we consider is the legality of the naval blockade imposed by Israel.”

        After showing how the blockade complied with international law, the report at page 44 stated:

        “The Panel therefore concludes that Israel’s naval blockade was legal.”

        The panel also at page 45 says that the blockade is legitimate and in accordance with international law. So, there is no distinction between what is legitimate and what is legal.

        “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law”.

        Reply to Comment
        • Yeah, Right

          Pedro X puts his finger on a fundamental logic flaw in the Palmer report i.e. Palmer said that Israel followed all the rules for conducting a naval blockade and THEREFORE that blockade was legal.

          That is, of course, a fundamentally-flawed conflation of the legal concepts of “jus in bello” and “jus ad bellum”.

          An example: the US Army conducted itself impeccably during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. But that exemplary military operation did not IN ITSELF mean that George W Bush’s was acting legally when he ordered the invasion of Iraq.

          He wasn’t. That war was illegal, no matter how it was conducted.

          The same is true of the Flotilla Raid: that Palmer found nothing wrong with how it was carried out does NOT allow him to conclude that it was legal to carry out that raid.

          It wasn’t. There was no armed conflict between Hamas and Israel, and so there was no legal basis for a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

          Pretty simple, really.

          Reply to Comment
        • Yeah, Right

          PX: “The panel also at page 45 says that the blockade is legitimate and in accordance with international law. So, there is no distinction between what is legitimate and what is legal.”

          I will now point to the sentence in the report that shows that Palmer understood perfectly well that this naval blockade is not legal.

          It is right here: “Traditionally, naval blockades have most commonly been imposed in situations where there is an international armed conflict.”

          Palmer was being too modest: naval blockaded are ONLY legal when imposed during an international armed conflict, precisely because at all other times the overriding legal principle is “freedom of the seas”.

          But Palmer then showed that he understood that perfectly well when he went on to mull in great detail about whether this situation can be regarded as “international”.

          Note the trick? Anyone? You. You up the back, because Pedro doesn’t know.

          Yes, that’s right, Palmer deliberately avoided asking himself the other obvious question: Was There An Armed Conflict At The Time That This Flotilla Set Sail?

          The answer: No. The last armed conflict had already ended with a ceasefire.

          QED: the legal conditions for an Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip were absent, because absent an armed conflict Israel can impose any naval blockade on anyone.

          Reply to Comment
    5. Pierre

      So, three of the four boats turned back before even being engaged by the Navy. What a bunch of pussies.

      Reply to Comment