This past weekend, a six-ship flotilla left Turkey bound for the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. They never made it — they were intercepted by the Israeli military. Details are still being collected, but it looks like at least nine people were killed.
The international uproar was instantaneous. Israel, they said, was again being the bully. According to them, this was just a humanitarian mission to bring aid to the hard-pressed residents of Gaza and those on board the Mavi Marmara were surprised by a brutal, unprovoked attack.
Hold it. Let’s get real! This is the same old anti-Israel bias coming from European Union leaders who fall all over themselves to show disdain for Israel but never lose an opportunity to show support for their favorite international victims: Palestinians and Muslims.
Within hours, Spain and France concluded that what the Jewish state did was “excessive.” Spain called the actions “unacceptable” and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he “condemns the disproportionate use of force.” Meanwhile, Great Britain called for Israel to drop its long-standing blockade of Gaza.
After stripping away the anti-Israel rhetoric, here is what’s known about this incident:
There is general agreement that six ships — self-described as a “freedom flotilla” — left Turkey with “supplies” for Gaza. After this, there’s lots of disagreement.
Turkey, who backed the blockade-busters, says the supplies were benign: largely food, medicines, and clothing. They also say the 600 people on board the ships were unarmed “peacemakers.”
Despite what the Turks say, that’s unlikely. But let’s clear up a thing or two.
First, according to the Oslo Accords, the Israelis have sovereignty over Gaza, and international law allows nations to require suspicious ships to identify themselves before entering their waters. International law also requires that ships of the kind involved in this incident conform — in this case — to Israel’s laws and security needs.
Second, Israel simply can’t allow unknown goods to enter into Gaza, a territory controlled by Hamas. This is after all a terrorist regime that calls for the murder of Jews, the “obliteration” of Israel, and its replacement with an Islamic theocracy.
It’s also important to point out that in the past, Israel has intercepted ships and boats with weapons intended for Hamas. Prior to building the security wall, Hamas was responsible for 40 percent of all suicide attacks against Israeli citizens, and over 10,000 rockets have been launched by Hamas from Gaza against communities in southern Israel since 2005.
This is a high-stakes game — one that Israel can’t afford to lose.
It is also important to get a clear picture of the organization claiming responsibility for this so-called “freedom flotilla.”
The group that claims it organized the flotilla is the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, better known as IHH. Formed in 1992, its based in Turkey with offices in Gaza and the West Bank.
However, while the IHH may have an innocent-sounding name, it has documented ties to terrorists and was named in federal court documents as playing a role in the Los Angeles millennium bomb plot. Intelligence reports from 1996 also linked this Turkish group to international terrorism. An Israeli intelligence report also linked this group to “radical Islamic networks,” including Hamas, and other global jihad networks.
Steve Emerson, who has appeared on PJTV and is a respected terrorism expert, says that IHH was banned by Israel in 2008 for its affiliation with Hamas and its association with Muslim Brotherhood leader Yousef al-Qaradawi, who issued a fatwa calling for the killing of Americans and Jews.