In reviewing the available facts about the Israeli storming of the Gaza-bound Turkish flotilla, two conclusions emerge: 1) The Israelis were justified in their actions, and 2) the Israelis will continue to be unjustly condemned by the world community.
Israeli is surrounded by nations and entities either dedicated to its destruction or decidedly hostile to it. In the past five years, Hamas has fired some 10,000 missiles into Israel from Gaza.
With that background and pursuant to its existential right to self-defense, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza to prevent the delivery of weapons into the area that could and probably would be used by Islamic terrorists in more attacks against Israel.
If Hamas’ acts of war against Israeli civilians aren’t sufficient to convince you that Israel’s blockade was justified, then consider that Egypt has imposed a similar blockade in the area to prevent the delivery of arms to Hamas.
Israel has not completely isolated Gaza. It has been providing abundant humanitarian relief to it and routinely allows the United Nations and international groups entry into the area.
Nor did it deny the delivery of aid to Gaza by this particular flotilla, but insisted on its right to inspect the goods for security purposes before allowing their delivery. What was the reaction of the flotilla’s organizer, the Turkey-based IHH?
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, “All of our appeals were turned down.” If the IHH’s intentions were benign, why would it refuse its ships to be inspected?
Well, it seems humanitarian aid wasn’t the IHH’s main motivation. NewsBusters reports that as the flotilla was waiting to embark on its mission, the crowd on one of the ships that would be involved in the incident invoked a jihadist chant: “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return.” One said, “We are now waiting for one of two good things — either to achieve martyrdom or to reach Gaza.”
But what is the IHH? The Washington Examiner reports that it is a “virulently anti-American, pro-Hamas radical Islamist group” that “has been linked to the ultra-radical Muslim Brotherhood and to al Qaeda by French, Danish and U.S. intelligence agencies” and is one of many groups “that raise and channel funds to Hamas.” Hamas has never renounced its organizing purpose: to destroy the state of Israel.
As Israel was contemplating how to deal with this guaranteed disaster, it was fully aware that an unsympathetic and biased international press would uniformly condemn any action it took.
One senior military source was quoted as saying, “It makes no difference what we do or how careful we are or how we tackle the matter of the flotilla. Whatever we do, they’ll all be against us. They’ll condemn us at the U.N., and we’ll be scolded. We might as well at least preserve our national dignity and maintain the blockade of Gaza.”
As the flotilla approached the Gaza Strip to defeat the blockade, Israeli commandos boarded one of the ships from a helicopter and were met with activists reportedly armed with metal poles, knives and guns. The Israel Defense Force later released video showing activists attacking soldiers with a stun grenade, a box of plates and water hoses.
Legal experts argue not only that the blockade was justified by international and domestic law as a response to acts of war but also that Israel was on firm legal ground in enforcing the blockade in international waters against ships determined to violate the blockade, which this flotilla clearly was. As commentators have noted, if the flotilla’s primary purpose had been to deliver humanitarian aid rather than to sabotage the blockade, it would have permitted Israel and Egypt to inspect the goods and then send them into Gaza. Flotilla organizers themselves said, “This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies; it’s about breaking Israel’s siege on 1.5 million Palestinians.”
Indeed, it’s highly unlikely that the IHH even harbored good faith intentions of securing the delivery of this “aid” to Gaza. As Jonathan Schanzer wrote in The Weekly Standard, the IHH knew its ships would never reach Israeli waters because the government had banned the group in July 2008 for its ties to terrorism finance.
But as long as it could provoke Israel to violence and count on the international media to further condemn Israel, the IHH would succeed in advancing its cause against Israel, even if — especially if — casualties occurred.
Though it’s tragic that people died in the raid, is it fair to lay the blame on Israel for enforcing its blockade after first exhausting all peaceful solutions and on Israeli soldiers who acted in self-defense against activist aggression?
No matter. When it comes to this age-old struggle, fairness is rarely part of the equation. People have chosen sides; the facts be damned.