Yesterday was basically for activism; today I provide additional information even before we’ve reached the “finale” of the Flotilla fiasco. (With thanks to multiple readers who sent me material.)
At first I was not certain that the government would actually move to block the boats, because of the negative PR (and a demonstrated hesitancy to do so in the past). Now I am pleased to be able report that the septet, the inner cabinet of seven Israeli ministers, has indeed made a decision to block the movement of the Flotilla — which is carrying a total of some 700 – 800 nationals from Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Sweden and Ireland — and either turn it back or direct it to the port of Ashdod, even if by force.
A confrontation is anticipated. The IDF calls the flotilla a provocation in the guise of a humanitarian act, and there are plans being laid for that provocation to be met. Commandos will board the ships — armed because no one knows who is actually on board. The “activists” will be brought off the ships in Ashdod to a tent where each will meet with a representative of the Ministry of the Interior. He or she will be provided with the alternative of signing a paper that includes a pledge to stay away from Israel, in which case the individual will be flown home at Israel’s expense, or being arrested and brought to a detention center in Beersheva.
The intent right now is to act with sensitivity, but with full determination to meet the challenge. A major operation is being mounted, with military and diplomatic personnel involved, security checks and medical checks. Diplomats, journalists, etc. will be handled appropriately.
Once the humanitarian aid is unloaded at the port and inspected, the United Nations would be permitted to transfer the material via land crossings into Gaza — there is no intention of preventing the aid from reaching people.
This is all proper and necessary.
The parents of Gilad Shalit asked the organizers of the flotilla to take letters and packages into Gaza for their son. They said that in return they would even ask the government of Israel to allow the ships through.
These “human rights” activists refused. They said that “their main purpose in organizing the convoy is to break the blockade and to deliver the humanitarian aid. They refused to make the transfer of the aid conditional on anything having to do with Gilad Shalit.” This means they don’t want their way paved so that things are smooth and the “humanitarian aid” can be delivered. They want to tussle with the Israeli navy: how else will they make the figurative splash that they hope will embarrass Israel? People who imagine the flotilla is a genuine humanitarian effort should be advised of this.
Lest there be any misunderstanding about this: the Israeli navy prevents ship access to the coast of Gaza because it is run by Hamas, a terrorist organization intent on stockpiling weapons to be used against us. Weaponry and other equipment useful to Hamas could — and would — be transported via the Mediterranean. And, in point of fact, no one really knows what is in the holds of those ships in the Flotilla.
This is not a blockade to prevent humanitarian assistance or basic commercial goods, for use by ordinary residents, from reaching Gaza. That material is transported into Gaza via crossing on land.
The staunchly pro-Israel group StandWithUs has announced that it is launching its own flotilla. Three boats, each carrying 12-15 passengers, are due to depart from Ashdod port today. The boats will carry massive banners along their sides stating “Free Gaza From Hamas.” The goal is public attention and education.
For a deeper look at the issues, please see this briefing from the Global Law Forum of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
On a different subject, I’m just now getting to an excellent piece by David Wilder, spokesman for Hevron, “Caliph Abu Bama in the City of Al-KooKoo”:
It brings home a good deal of information that we seldom grapple with (or never knew):