Israel and Freedom Flotilla in PR Battle

May 27, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

An Israeli Navy vessel patrols Israel's coastline off the coastal city of Ashdod on February 2, 2010. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli Navy vessel patrols Israel's coastline off the coastal city of Ashdod on February 2, 2010. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM—As the international flotilla of ships of pro-Palestinian activists nears the Gaza Strip, Israel has ramped up its side of the publicity battle being waged between the two sides.

The Israeli government and military were initially very truculent with the media and the public regarding the "Freedom Flotilla" and the state’s intended response to it. Now, with the nine ships expecting to arrive by Saturday morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Defense Force have kicked into PR overdrive issuing a slew of official statements on Thursday, including video press releases by IDF and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Both IDF and the Israeli Navy have now publically stated they will not allow the flotilla to reach the shores of Gaza. IDF said Thursday that they have been issuing formal warnings to the ships “requesting them to stop their trip to Gaza’s shores.”

The group of ships set off earlier this month from Europe, gathering more ships and international support along the way. While Israel had been mostly silent, throughout their journey they have been sending Twitter updates, almost 800 so far, posting YouTube videos and releasing press releases.

According to Greta Berlin, a Free Gaza Movement cofounder, the group has “coordinators in 30 countries around the world, they are all set to send out press releases, to call members of parliament [if the flotilla is blocked].”

Coordinators of the flotilla have repeatedly acknowledged that their main goal is not to deliver the humanitarian aid on their ships to residents of Gaza. Rather, they have repeatedly said they want to draw attention to the situation of people living in Gaza.

However, the Freedom Flotilla has been unable to shake associations with Hamas. According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, numerous statements have been made by Hamas-affiliated individuals regarding preparations and coordination for the arrival of the flotilla.

Israel maintains that despite violence and danger to Israel, it has maintained a consistent supply of humanitarian aid to Gaza. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, food and supplies are delivered to Gaza six days a week.

"Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months equaling nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman, and child in Gaza," said the MFA in a statement earlier this week. "Millions of dollars worth of international food aid continually flows through the Israeli humanitarian apparatus, ensuring that there is no food shortage in Gaza."