Misinformation about Gaza
and the flotilla debacle
Four essentials the media ignore
By Maurice Ostroff,
June 7, 2010
Whether or not one considers the Gaza blockade justified, moral or wise,
intellectual honesty demands that we base our conclusions on credible information. Unfortunately the majority of reports about
the Gaza blockade are glaringly misleading.
Politicians, journalists and other pundits cannot reach rational conclusions,
about Gaza while they continue to ignore the following indisputable FACTS.
1. The blockade of Gaza is a joint Egyptian-Israeli operation, supported
by the Quartet.
The strident calls on Israel only, to lift the blockade create the false
impression that only Israel has been blockading Gaza, whereas intellectual honesty requires that any reference to the blockade
should describe it as the Egyptian-Israeli blockade.
The pundits need to be reminded that until now, the blockade has been supported
by the Quartet as spelled out in a June 3 article in the Guardian "End the Gaza blockade? If only it were that simple",
"Those who call on Israel
to lift all restrictions on access to Gaza have not grasped
the changed political reality.. The policy of the Quartet and Israel since
2007 has been to isolate Hamas and strengthen the West Bank Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud
Abbas and Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad. This is why most western diplomats refuse to have contact with Hamas officials,
without Hamas first moderating its position by recognising Israel,
renouncing violence, and adhering to previous peace agreements.. Western policymakers must address the rights
of the people of Gaza, but must also take account of the imperative not to strengthen those who reject the peace process,
or their backers in Tehran and Damascus."
Egypt's recent partial opening of the Rafah crossing reminds us that the
blockade of Gaza has been conducted equally by Egypt It has been actively destroying underground tunnels and last December
it began constructing an underground steel wall. The world seems to have forgotten that British MP George Galloway was deported
from Egypt when he arrived with activists who were prevented from taking 200 aid trucks into Gaza.
2. The blockade and boarding the ships are perfectly legal
Journalists and politicians who glibly talk of the blockade as illegal are
displaying ignorance. Israel’s boarding of the ships is in full compliance with the Helsinki Principles on the Law of
According to clause 5.2.10..a blockade, i.e.
the interdiction of all or certain maritime traffic coming from or going to a port or coast of a belligerent, is a legitimate
method of naval warfare.. Neutral vessels believed
on reasonable and probable grounds to be breaching a blockade may be stopped and captured. If
they, after prior warning, clearly resist capture, they may be attacked".
Clause 5.1.2 provides that "..merchant ships flying
the flag of a neutral State may
be attacked if they are believed on
reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and
clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search, capture or diversion".
Gaza is controlled by a belligerent Hamas that has been declared a terrorist
organization by the USA, Canada and the EU. The official, openly declared policy of Hamas is to destroy Israel completely
and to replace it with an Islamic state. Hamas refuses all efforts at negotiating a peaceful solution and Iran continues to
supply Hamas with rockets and other weapons. Hence a state of belligerence exists, as contemplated in the above rules, and
the blockade is designed legally to prevent arms and support material from being supplied to Hamas.
3 Background to the
The blockade was initiated by Egypt and Israel in 2007 with the full support of
the US and the Quartet when Hamas seized control from the Palestinian government in the bloody Battle of Gaza described by
PA leader Hanan Ashrawi as "a situation of mutiny and armed insurrection challenging the institution of the PA". (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=2921040n
We need to be reminded that before the Palestinian uprising,
economic cooperation between the Palestinians and Israel was growing. Palestinian trucks moved freely on Israel’s roads
facilitating the export of thousands of tons of agricultural products from Gaza to Jordan and beyond. Palestinian businessmen traveled
freely and conducted their affairs in Israel and up to 100,000 Palestinians worked in Israel.
Unfortunately very little is known, even by experts on
Palestine, about the many cooperative efforts established by Israel that were forced to close as a result of the intifadas.
Before Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel and the Palestinian Authority cooperated in creating employment opportunities along
the “seam-line". A successful industrial zone was created at Erez which employed about 5,000 workers in some 200 businesses
half of which were Palestinian-owned, producing everything from plastics to car parts. This was part of a larger Gaza Industrial
Estate (GIE), slated to provide up to 50,000 jobs. Additional areas were planned
for the Kerem Shalom area near Rafah in Gaza.
But the GIE zone became the target of deadly Palestinian attacks leading
to its closure. Even the golden opportunity for a new prosperous Gaza created by Israel's disengagement from the strip was
rejected. The Gazans wantonly destroyed thousands of greenhouses and other projects left behind by the Jewish settlers that
could have provided income for over 4,500 families.
4. "This mission is not about delivering humanitarian
supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege" According to AFP,
this statement was made by Greta Berlin, an organizer of the flotilla on May 27, 2010.
Unfortunately, while many of the participants in the flotilla were genuinely
motivated by humanitarian considerations, others were not so benign; they evidently planned a violent confrontation designed
to break Israel’s alliance with Turkey. While five ships in the first convoy were peacefully diverted to Ashdod the
sixth had 600 activists on board, sponsored by the "charitable" organization, Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), an organization that was described by the Danish Institute for International Studies as having maintained
links with al-Qaida and a number of global jihad networks during the 1990s
On June 1 2010, the Jerusalem Post reported that in 1997 when the Turkish
government launched a raid on the organization’s offices, they found weapons, explosives, and instructions for bomb-making.
Under the telling headline 'Israel Has Fallen into the Radicals' Trap',
Spiegel Online of June 1, commented "..It is telling that the fighting only broke out on one boat in the flotilla: the
Mavi Marmara, the only passenger ship, which was commanded by the radical Islamic Insani Yardim Yakfi (IHH). It is a group
that has, since the 1990s, been accused by the American and French secret services of maintaining ties to jihadist organizations
under the guise of humanitarian aid. In recent years, they successfully collected donations for the terrorist Hamas organization,
which they then smuggled into the Gaza Strip. It appears that there were radical Islamist elements aboard the IHH ship …
who didn't want to limit their actions to peaceful resistance."
If the intention of the flotilla had been entirely humanitarian, the organizers
would willingly have accepted the offers by Israel and Egypt to transport all humanitarian supplies to Gaza after offloading
either at Ashdod or El Arish.