Thursday, May 27, 2010

Israel to stop Gaza aid ships

Israel gets ready to shoot itself in the foot again over Gaza:


Israel says it will prevent, if necessary by force, a nine-ship flotilla [my link] of peace activists and humanitarian aid from reaching the Gaza Strip.

The Freedom Flotilla, is carrying around 700 pro-Palestinian activists from various countries, as well as 10,000 tonnes of aid.

It is by far the largest fleet of aid to try to reach Gaza since Israel imposed its siege on the coastal territory in 2007.

In accordance with the directions of the Israeli government, the Israel Defence Forces and the Israeli Navy are preparing to prevent the flotilla from reaching the Gaza shore," a military source said on Thursday.

The Israeli army also took journalists on a tour of a detention centre being prepared at Ashdod port for holding the aid activists.

Ma’ariv, an Israeli newspaper, said preparations were being made to provide the detainees with food, drink and medical treatment.

The paper said that Israelis on board would be arrested, Palestinians would be questioned by the Israeli secret service, and foreign nationals would be sent back to their countries.

'Message to Israel'

Hanin Zuabi, a member of the Israeli parliament who is on board the flotilla, told Al Jazeera that the activists intend to reach Gaza regardless of plans to stop them.

"If the Israelis try to stop us, this will be a huge diplomatic and political crises for them," Zuabi said.

"We have 50 states participating in this and are sending a very clear message to Israel - the international community is not accepting the siege on Gaza."

Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, on board the flotilla, said the activists travelling in the convoy included European parliamentarians, former US diplomats and Nobel peace laureates.

Organisers of the aid fleet said that they will ignore Israeli threats and head straight for Gaza's shores.

Three ships are from Turkey, two from the UK and one each from Ireland, Greece, Kuwait and Algeria.

'PR disaster'

"Israel should not be under any illusion whatsoever that their threats or intimidation will stop us or even that their violence against us will stop us," Huwaida Arraf, from the Free Gaza Movement, said.

Some Israeli officials see this as a disastrous public-relations situation.

"We can't win on this one in terms of PR," Yigal Palmor, a foreign ministry spokesman, said.

"If we let them throw egg at us, we appear stupid with egg on our face. If we try to prevent them by force, we appear as brutes." [my emph.]

Israel says the blockade of Gaza aims to prevent Hamas, the political movement that controls Gaza, from acquiring weapons or materials that could be used for military purposes.

For the majority of Gaza's population of 1.5 million people, the result has been impoverished living conditions.


At 9:18 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

You're right. Israel is being stupid. The activists should be allowed to reach Gaza after their cargo is inspected.

At 9:35 PM, Blogger Ernie Halfdram said...

Inspected, I presume, by customs officials of the sovereign state of Gaza? Or is there someone else you imagine is entitled to carry out such inspections?

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Hey, if Hamas wants to conduct a customs inspection and tax its own aid, after the Israeli navy makes sure there are no weapons on board, who am I to say no.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Gert said...


I frankly don't understand (logically speaking of course) why a simple rule of inspecting all goods coming into Gaza isn't applied. The stated aim is to keep weapons out, correct? Then what is achieved by imposing a blanket ban on all goods, excepting those originating from Israel? You would think that with modern search technology it wouldn't be too hard to effectively screen incoming goods for suspect items.

By this blanket ban Israel fuels the impression it is trying to achieve something altogether different.

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

I agree that most of the list of banned items makes no sense and seems quite random.

"By this blanket ban Israel fuels the impression it is trying to achieve something altogether different."

Well, from the get-go Israel said it was an economic blockade and not a purely military one. Even an economic blockade should be much more limited than what is in place right now.

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Gert said...

This is precisely what is so sad about the whole enterprise: that no amount of blockade is really going to change the situation; the Gazans aren't en masse going to set upon Hamas' leaders (and if they did we'd actually have been encouraging a coup) and Hamas isn't mysteriously going to melt away. The only option, untried (and perhaps uncertain) but in the medium term simply unavoidable, is to start talking. Try talking about a real, sustainable ceasefire to begin with. This is not an impossible objective.

At 8:53 PM, Blogger Ernie Halfdram said...

There appears to be an assumption that Israel is somehow entitled to interdict weapons from Gaza. Given Israel's magnanimous 'complete withdrawal', is there some principle underlying that assumption, apart from the desire to bomb with impunity?

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

The principle of us not liking to be attacked by missiles that we could have otherwise prevented from reaching their destination in the first place.

Plus, the fact that Gaza is not a sovereign state. No country recognizes it as such.


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