Thirty-four Americans and four crew members set sail today on the American-flagged ship The Audacity of Hope. The ship is part of the “Freedom Flotilla II,” an international flotilla organized to violate Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, allegedly to deliver humanitarian aid. StandWithUs, an international Israel education and advocacy organization, condemns the flotilla as a hypocritical and dangerous publicity stunt, and it joins international leaders in urging flotilla organizers to cancel their plans.
The flotilla is a publicity stunt. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as the International Red Cross and the European Commission have repeatedly confirmed. In fact, Gaza is experiencing an economic boom, according to the June 26 edition of the New York Times,” says Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs CEO. “The flotilla organizers don’t want to help the Palestinian people. Their only goal is to demonize Israel by forcing it to respond militarily to their provocations. It is puzzling that principled people would participate in an act that violates international law and essentially supports the terrorist regime Hamas, which governs Gaza. The U.S. State Department announced on June 24 that giving material aid to terrorist entities like Hamas is a violation of American civil and criminal law.”
Israel, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and U.S. officials have all urged the flotilla organizers to cancel their plans and stressed that there is no need for a flotilla, as aid can be delivered to Gaza through official entry points in Israel and Egypt. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned last Thursday that there could be violence. “….We think it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke actions by entering Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.”
The flotilla organizers are trying to bait Israel into responding militarily to their breach of the naval blockade of Gaza to make Israel look like an aggressor,” says Rothstein. “In the past five years, Hamas fired over 10,000 rockets into Israeli communities. The blockade is a legal measure to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from freely importing weapons for their ongoing war against Israel. Israel has repeatedly offered to deliver humanitarian aid through proper entry points after officially inspecting them for weapons. The flotilla organizers have refused to comply.”
Israel and international organizations like the United Nations transport 6,000 tons of food, fuel, materials, and other supplies into Gaza daily through official channels. The May 2010 flotilla refused to comply with these official channels for delivering goods to Gazans. When Israel tried to enforce the naval blockade, Turkish terrorists aboard one of the ships attacked Israeli personnel with knives, metal bars, and guns. Nine of the Turkish terrorists were killed. Reports have surfaced that members of the 2011 flotilla also plan to use violence, including the use of chemical weapons, against Israeli personnel.
In contrast, in June 2011, the European convoy “Miles of Smiles 3” arrived at the Israel/Egypt Rafah land crossing, and members of its 10 European human rights organizations transferred 30 tons of medical supplies, ambulances, baby goods, and wheelchairs into Gaza. There was no disruption because the organizers were focused on delivering supplies, not delegitimizing Israel by provoking a violent confrontation.
We hope that activists will put their energies into constructive actions that will help promote peaceful coexistence instead of joining destructive, dangerous publicity stunts like this flotilla, which lends support to the most repressive forces in the region, such as Hamas,” said Rothstein.
Founded in 2001, StandWithUs is an international Israel education organization committed to supporting people around the world who want to educate others about Israel. StandWithUs works on college campuses and in communities, libraries, the media, and churches through brochures, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and extensive online resources. StandWithUs now has 14 offices and chapters throughout the U.S. and in the UK and Israel. Go to www.standwithus.com for more on StandWithUs’ programs and resources. Go to www.flotillafacts.com for more information on the latest flotilla.