It was inevitable, as things were going with the “flotilla” — for us there was no choice. And so I am enormously grateful that we stood our ground. Had we backed down in the face of extreme provocation that ultimately became physical attack, it would have been horrendous.
A summary of events:
Six boats were in the flotilla — two carried people and the rest supplies. During the night our Navy sent them multiple messages urging that confrontation be avoided. They were asked to return to Cyprus or re-route to Ashkelon for unloading of the humanitarian supplies, but the “activists” on board rejected all offers. One boat — the Marma — carrying 600 people, was most problematic in its response.
Yesterday, Al Jazeerah documented the cries of people on that boat:
“Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”
Explains Palestinian Media Watch, this is a reference to “Khaibar…the last Jewish village defeated by Muhammad’s army in 628. Many Jews were killed in that battle, which marked the end of Jewish presence in Arabia. There are Muslims who see that as a precursor for future wars against Jews. At gatherings and rallies of extremists, this chant is often heard as a threat to Jews to expect to be defeated and killed again by Muslims.”
PMW put out the Al Jazeerah video report on its website:
See it, please! Save it and share it very broadly. It tells the story of what we faced more vividly than anything else.
Most incredible was the statement of one Arab woman present:
“Right now we face one of two happy endings: either Martyrdom or reaching Gaza.”
Hardly the statement of a humanitarian activist eager to supply food to hungry Gazans. This is the statement of a jihad extremist. Make no mistake about it.
At about 3 AM, Navy commandos, trained and prepared for this, boarded the boat. They were met with premeditated violence. The IDF called it an attempted lynching. Those on board had weapons — guns, knives, iron bars, bats, clubs, slingshots with marbles — and attacked. In two instances, “peaceful activists” pulled the guns from our soldiers and began shooting. One soldier was beaten to the floor of the ship and pummeled, another was knifed in the stomach.
As chaos ensued, our soldiers had no choice but to respond with fire — something they had hoped to avoid doing. In light of the circumstances, their response was controlled, and they have since been praised by their superiors for their proper action. In the end, seven of our soldiers were wounded, two seriously. Some ten people on the boat were killed. I have no information on who they were, but there was a large contingent of Turks among these fighters — the Turks, after all, were instrumental in the planning of this flotilla.
“Live fire was used against our forces. They initiated the violence, that’s 100% clear,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed regret for the loss of life, but said that the flotilla was a provocation sponsored by extremists who support a terrorist organization.
Indeed this is the case: The flotilla was organized by IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi – “humanitarian relief fund”), a Turkish aid foundation which has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and global jihadi networks, as well as mujahideen groups in Afghanistan. It openly supports Hamas; members of Hamas had boarded boats at the Gaza coast and were waiting to “receive” the flotilla.
At his press conference this morning, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said:
“I want to report this morning that the armada of hate and violence in support of the Hamas terror organization was a premeditated and outrageous provocation. The organizers are well known for their ties with global Jihad, Al-Qaeda and Hamas. They have a history of arms smuggling and deadly terror. On board the ship we found weapons – prepared in advance and used against our forces.
“The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and the results were unfortunately violent. Israel regrets any loss of life and did everything to avoid this outcome. We repeatedly called upon the organizers, and all those who associated with them, through diplomatic channels and any other means we could – to stop this provocation. The so-called humanitarian aid was not for a humanitarian purpose. Had it been for a humanitarian purpose, they would have accepted our offer to deliver all humanitarian supplies through the appropriate channels which are used on a daily basis, as we make sure that Gaza will not be short of humanitarian supplies. On a daily basis we do that…
“We asked them to send [their supplies] through the proper channels, whether it’s the UN, whether it’s the Red Cross, whether it’s our people – but to no avail. They said it’s a humanitarian campaign, but in fact what they said repeatedly is that their intent and purpose was to break the maritime blockade on Gaza. [The blockade] is very legal and justified by the terror that Hamas is applying in Gaza. Allowing these ships to go in a illegal way to Gaza would have opened a corridor of smuggling arms and terrorists to Gaza with the inevitable results of many, many thousands of civilian deaths, and violence all over the area. (Emphasis added)
“After these repeated calls were not heeded by the organizers, we told them that they will not be allowed to break the blockade. According to maritime law we have the right to do that. Unfortunately the people and organizers on the ship did not heed the calls of our forces this morning to peacefully follow them and bring a peaceful closure to this event. (Emphasis added)
“No sovereign country would tolerate such violence against civilian population, against its sovereignty, against international law. And we in Israel call today upon all relevant parties and on all relevant countries to work together in calming the situation.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, on TV this evening, said, “Israel is a sovereign state and cannot accept the undermining of its sovereignty. Israel has stopped ships in international waters before and when ships refuse to accede to warnings and obey instructions, we have the right to board them under international law.” (emphasis added)
Additionally, he noted that passengers on board the ship “were not peace activists but terror supporters.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was in Canada when this transpired, is on his way home. He has communicated to President Obama the impossibility of meeting him right now.
Said Netanyahu, “Our soldiers acted in self defense”:
“I think both Prime Minister Harper and President Obama understand that Israel has a great security problem and I want to put that into context. The context is that Gaza has become a base for Hamas terrorists backed by Iran. They have fired thousands of rockets into Israel. They are amassing thousands more rockets to fire at our cities, at our towns, at our children.
“…our policy is this — we try to let in all humanitarian goods into Gaza, all peaceful commodities, food, medicine, and the like. What we want to prevent coming into Gaza are rockets, missiles, explosives and war materials that could be used to attack our civilians. This is an ongoing policy and it was the one that guided our action yesterday. We told the flotilla of ships, we said, ‘You can take all your cargo, put it in our port of Ashdod, we’ll just ferret out if there are any war materials, and the rest will go through.’
“We succeeded in doing this peacefully with five of the six ships. The sixth ship, the largest, which had hundreds of people on it, not only did not cooperate in this effort peacefully, they deliberately attacked the first soldiers who came on the ship. They were mobbed, they were clubbed, they were beaten, stabbed, there was even a report of gunfire. And our soldiers had to defend themselves, defend their lives, or they would have been killed.”
The ships have been brought to Ashdod. The “activists” will be either deported or arrested, and the wounded will be treated. The cargo of the ships will be unloaded and examined, and genuine humanitarian aid will be sent through crossings to the people of Gaza.
Undoubtedly I will have more on this tomorrow.
What is of enormous significance now is that each of you reading this should understand precisely what went on, what the true motivations and actions of those on the ship were — and what Israel’s concerns and rights in the matter are.
That we are going to take heat, big-time, is a given now. We’ll hear, of course, from Turkey, the UN, Arab nations, etc., and likely some European nations as well.
Each of us best serves Israel now by spreading this information at every turn, as broadly as you possibly can. I think you have what you need with the information above. Please use it.