This is the central point of the Gaza Flotilla incident. Purposely obfuscating the truth is the sine qua non of the movement to de-legitimize Israel. It is how they make their case. I am convinced they even know this. They simply make up a “truth” that serves their purpose, and are not actually interested in accurately portraying those facts and ideas that would refute or mitigate their message. And lying to the media is how they get to propagate their message. They follow the adage that a lie told big enough is believed. The problem this time for them is that Israel did a much better job of getting out their version of the story. For one, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, while the “peace activists” were claiming Israel attacked first, Israel had taken video that contradicted their story.
As most people know by now, a flotilla of six vessels staffed by anti-Israel activists that included some with known ties to terrorism, tried to run a naval blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza strip. An Israeli force of commandos rappelling from a helicopter onto the deck of the largest ship were met directly by some 30 to 60 of these activists attempting to subdue the Israeli soldiers while wielding knives, metal poles and other instruments of deadly aggression. Either nine or ten of these attackers wound up dead in the end as the soldiers subdued the ship in self-defense.
The first idea we want to refute is that this was a peaceful group of ordinary people who just wanted to bring medical and food supplies and comforting hope to the starving, helpless and destitute people of Gaza who are suffering from a brutal and Nazi-like Israeli regime. None of this is correct, as it is described, but that is not exactly the point here.
This was not an ordinary group and they were not acting out of humanitarian concern for the welfare of the people of Gaza. You can quibble with my characterization of their humanitarianism, but you cannot quibble with this: their intention, by their own admission, was to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip. So all their propaganda about bringing food and supplies to a starving populace is disingenuous. They were invited by Israel to peacefully dock in Ashdod in Israel, allow an inspection of the cargo for weapons, and have Israel deliver the cargo to the Gaza through land ports. Egypt also offered the same kind of deal through their channels into Gaza. The flotilla refused the offer, and without any counter-offer tried to advance directly into Gaza.
Again, by their own admission, the purpose of their flotilla was to break the blockade of Gaza, not merely to bring to Gaza much needed medical and food supplies. That they could have done without any confrontation.
So the real question is: Why is the blockade important in the first place?
The reason is that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza and Israel is perfectly willing, and has been willing, to allow cargo into Gaza through land routes to land-side ports for the last four years. Undermining the medical, food and consumer needs of the Gazans is not the concern of the Israelis. What is of concern to them, however, is the shipment of advanced weaponry into Gaza from countries such as Iran, which includes more sophisticated missiles with which the Hamas regime can reach more effectively into Israel. Remember that rocket fire into Israel from Gaza is still going on even if the quantity of those firings is not as acute since the recent so-called cease-fire.
The Hamas regime is desperately trying to smuggle such advanced weaponry into the Strip and could really use a sea route for that purpose. Israel denies Hamas this route by declaring and enforcing a blockade.
The blockade is legal under International Law and so is stopping the flotilla ships in international waters. Using deadly force is also legal under International Law. Because Israel is in a state of armed conflict with Hamas, the governing body of Gaza, it has the right to declare a blockade of an enemy territory if it perceives its citizenry is in danger of attack. The Israelis have stated that Hamas getting advanced weapons through sea-lanes fits this condition and they have openly declared the intention of the blockade is to stop weapons smuggling. The basis for this in International Law is cited by Israel in the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, Paragraph 67A. (“67. Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they: (a) 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 or capture;”).
If Israel is perfectly willing to allow anyone to move humanitarian cargo to Gaza in support of its beleaguered citizens, then why is there a need to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza since the blockade is necessary to protect its beleaguered citizens from advanced weaponry? Isn’t the humanitarian justification for breaking the blockade the same humanitarian justification for the Israelis to keep it — both to protect basic human rights of survival? Why are these so-called humanitarians so concerned with only the Gazans and not the Israelis, especially considering that the Gazans can get the proffered aid and Israel some safety from Hamas shelling into Israel without violent confrontation over the blockade of sea routes?
Unless the real purpose of ending the blockade is to allow Gaza to get those advanced weapons in the future by denying Israel the right to self-protection now.