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Posted by on May 30, 2010 in Breaking News, International, Law, Places, Politics, Religion, Society, War | 0 comments

Israel Threatens Military Force Against Palestinian Aid Flotilla

Israel seems determined to give the lie to its own repeated claims that the embargo the IDF has been maintaining in the Gaza Strip for years now is not a form of siege warfare which, although not subject to any legal sanctions in ancient times, is now proscribed by international law.

The IDF is threatening to send warships to prevent a flotilla of six ships from bringing food, medicine, and other types of non-military aid to the Gazan population:

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists are on board the flotilla, which aims to reach Gaza in defiance of an Israeli embargo on the territory.

The flotilla was originally made up of nine ships – from Turkey, the UK, Ireland, Greece, Kuwait and Algeria -carrying roughly 10,000 tonnes of aid, including cement, water purification systems and wheelchairs.
[…]
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists are on board the flotilla, which aims to reach Gaza in defiance of an Israeli embargo on the territory.

The flotilla was originally made up of nine ships – from Turkey, the UK, Ireland, Greece, Kuwait and Algeria -carrying roughly 10,000 tonnes of aid, including cement, water purification systems and wheelchairs.
[…]
Israel said the boats were embarking on “an act of provocation” with the Israeli military rather than providing aid, and that it had issued warrants to prohibit their entrance to Gaza.

It asserted that the flotilla would be breaking international law by landing in Gaza, a claim the organisers angrily denied.

Israel has said that it will intercept the boats and detain those on board in the port of Ashdod.

Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, writing in Haaretz, are critical of both the aid flotilla and the Israeli government’s response to it (emphasis is mine):

… Today, the most plausible scenario seems to be the one the convoy’s organizers are counting on: A mid-sea confrontation during which Israel will apply its will – by force. The IDF will make an effort to keep the takeover as clean as possible, while simultaneously, trying to minimize the damage caused by media coverage, by apparently disrupting the ships’ broadcast transmission.Yet paradoxically, it seems that the Islamic and Leftists activists who are behind the convoy, with significant encouragement from the Turkish government, are not the only ones seeking a confrontation. Israel’s government has turned the need to stop the convoy into a matter of critical importance, by virtue of the importance it has assigned to the not-so-useful siege on Gaza.

It is highly doubtful that the convoy’s organizers have the well being of Gaza’s residents as their top priority. The cargo on the ships, even if it does reach Gaza, will not effect the average Gazan’s condition – we have learned over the three years since the revolution in Gaza (12 June 2007) that the Hamas government isn’t very different from its predecessors regarding its citizens’ welfare.
[…]
The flotilla is meant to serve the organization on the international front and depict Israel as a cruel country that harms innocent Palestinians.

It is easy to guess that few of the international media outlets covering the story will mention that Israel transfers thousands of tons of supplies to Gaza on a daily basis, or transfers critically ill Gazans’ to its own hospitals for treatment. It will be interesting to see if the reports give any mention to the smuggling tunnels which transfer the unnecessary goods that Israel denies entrance to.

The problem is, as stated, that that Israeli government helped glorify the flotilla. It is difficult to understand why an alternative solution was not fully considered, such as stopping the ships, searching them, and then letting them through.

The sentence I have emphasized in the quote above is not untrue. It’s not false. It’s not a lie. But, as Amira Hass (also in Haaretz), points out, it is misleading (Hass is not responding to the Issacharoff/Harel article directly — the defenses of Israel’s behavior made in that article are very common and familiar arguments made by Israeli officials and others):

“Israel transfers humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.” This is a routine statement that leads many to conclude that Israel pays for the Gazans’ food and medicine that do enter the strip. This is a mistaken conclusion, but it might be based on an accurate perception of the situation: In prison, the warden is responsible for providing the inmates’ food. But not in the 360-square-kilometer Gaza prison, which houses 1.5 million people. What we should be saying is, “Israel permits basic commodities to enter Gaza.” Some are ordered, paid for and distributed by international organizations. Most are sold to Gaza merchants, who sell them in the markets, stores and pharmacies.

In other words, exactly the kind of aid that this flotilla is bringing.

As this page of Google news hits indicates, this is very much an ongoing story.

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