Israel Seeks to Justify Response to Flotilla

June 1, 2010 Updated: March 14, 2012

Last week as a small flotilla of ships approached Gaza, it seemed that Israel was headed for just another tangle with international activists. Several times in the past five years, Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip has been challenged in the same way, and a couple of times, ships even got through.

The Israeli government’s public relations stance has always been that the blockade exists for the protection of Israeli citizens. The terrorist organization Hamas runs Gaza, and free movement of goods by sea would potentially allow for a steady flow of weapons from the outside world to Hamas.

As it is, elements in Gaza represent a threat to Israeli security. In May alone, 50 Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza into Israeli territory. On Tuesday morning, according to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF), two militants tried to enter Israel through tunnels from Gaza. They were killed.

Thus the security threat from Gaza is very real. Add to that the enemies Israel has in other countries—Turkey, Iran, and Syria, to name a few. It is not unfeasible that a flotilla of ships carrying tons of cargo could also be carrying weapons intended for Hamas.

The coordinating organizations behind the most recent flotilla, which had people from many countries aboard its six ships, stated openly in advance of their arrival that their goal was not to deliver aid. Their goal was to provoke a response, and their ultimate goal was to break Israel’s naval blockade.

The stated intention of the flotilla organizers has been repeated again and again by Israeli officials since the tragic death of the nine people aboard the biggest ship, the Mavi Marmara. That’s because it was made clear again and again by the organizers themselves.

Yes, they had aid aboard two of the ships. But they also had knives, clubs, Molotov cocktails, heavy slingshots, and other metal stabbing objects. Whether a limited number of the people aboard the ships had prepared for violence or whether the intention to use violence was widely shared among the people in the flotilla is unknown. 

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Genevieve Belmaker is a former reporter and editor with The Epoch Times.