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The ‘Free Gaza Movement’ Convoy: Humanitarians or Camera-Seekers?

Revealing their true nature, leaders of a massive convoy looking for a confrontation with the IDF say they won't bring aid to kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

by
Allison Kaplan Sommer

Bio

May 28, 2010 - 12:00 am
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Noam Shalit, the father of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, offered what sounded like a pretty good deal for the group that calls itself the “Free Gaza Movement.”

Members of the movement have set sail on the Mediterranean in a convoy of eight ships, with tons of food and supplies. They have named themselves the “Freedom Flotilla” and are believed to consist of more than 800 individuals from Europe, the U.S., and the Arab world.

The Israeli government, after a short period of debate, decided that it will intercept the convoy as it has done with other ships heading for Gaza — enforcing the blockade established in 2007 in coordination with the Egyptians after the ascent of Hamas to power. The IDF announced that the ships will be stopped by the Israeli navy, boarded, and then escorted to Ashdod, where the cargo will be unloaded and then transferred to Gaza.

Following that announcement, the father of the kidnapped soldier made his offer.

He said he would give the convoy his stamp of approval and use his considerable moral leverage to pressure Israel to allow the convoy to continue to Gaza — if the organizers of the cruise agreed to make contact with his son:

Attorney Nick Kaufman, who approached the Free Gaza Movement on behalf of the kidnapped soldier’s family, told Ynet that he offered the flotilla’s organizers the family’s full support, provided that “in addition to their demand that Israel lift its blockade they will urge Hamas to allow the soldier to receive letters and food packages from his family and allow international organizations to visit him.”

According to Kaufman, he was referred to the movement’s legal counsel, who rejected the offer. “I thought this movement supports human rights, as it claims, but according to the reaction it seems that it is only interested in provocation and expressing support for a terror group that doesn’t really care about human rights,” said the attorney.

Indeed — depressingly, but unsurprisingly — the humanitarian commitment of those aboard the “Freedom Flotilla” does not extend to Gilad Shalit. It doesn’t even sound like they spent much time debating the offer. Almost immediately after the Israeli media announced that it had been extended, it was refused, in keeping with their support of a regime that has held Shalit for four years under conditions that violate international law.

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