In the early hours of Monday, May 31, 2010, the Israeli Defense Forces prevented a group of ships from attempting to reach Gaza. The ships carried several hundred activists and supplies for Gaza, and had refused Israeli offers to offload supplies at Ashkelon for transfer to Gaza following appropriate security clearance.
One ship, sponsored by a terrorist Turkish organization known as IHH, was the site of violence when Israeli soldiers were attacked as they boarded the ship. The IHH has a long history of cooperation with Islamic terrorists. As a result of this violence, it is being reported that some 10 activists were killed and 2 IDF soldiers were wounded.
The Government of Canada has expressed concern about the loss of life, and is waiting for more information to emerge before commenting further. We appreciate the prudence shown by the Government and by the opposition parties in this regard.
It is our belief that as this story emerges, it will become clear that far from a neutral humanitarian relief effort, the Gaza flotilla represents a conscious and deliberate attempt to manipulate public opinion by placing naive civilians in harm’s way in callous disregard for their safety.
Responsibility for the tragic loss of life rests squarely with those who organized the flotilla and provoked this confrontation.
We are determined to do our utmost to ensure that Canadians benefit from a complete and accurate accounting of the facts of this situation.
A set of talking points is attached, and we will share further material as it becomes available.
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Key Points for Consideration Re: Gaza Flotilla
- Israeli sailors, attempting to board one of the six ships of the protest flotilla en route to Gaza, were attacked by dozens of activists armed with knives, metal bars, and handguns. Fearing for their lives, the Israeli soldiers had no choice but to respond. At least four Israeli personnel were wounded by various means, including by gunfire from activists.
- Israel made every effort to provide the flotilla organizers with an opportunity to avoid a confrontation. Israel offered to bring the flotilla into the port of Ashdod, and to transfer their aid to Gaza following appropriate security checks. The organizers rejected this offer, stating clearly that “this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it’s about breaking Israel’s siege.” (Greta Berlin, AFP, 27 May 10).
- Israel gave repeated warning of the maritime blockade in effect off the coast of Gaza and that the flotilla would be turned away and brought to an Israeli port to offload their cargo.
- The organizers of the protest deliberately invited a confrontation with Israeli sailors. This was not an aid mission, but a PR stunt designed to undermine Israel and bolster Hamas, internationally recognized as a terrorist organization. Among the protestors were a group of highly-trained extremists with links to the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist groups in Afghanistan.
- There is no blockade on humanitarian aid to Gaza. In fact, Israel delivers 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid – including medical supplies, food, and water – to Gaza every week. The blockade exists to prevent unauthorized individuals and unknown cargo from entering Gaza and falling into the hands of its ruling Hamas regime.
- Hamas is presently smuggling in massive amounts of military supplies into Gaza to fortify its positions and continue its attacks. Under international law Israel has the right to intercept vehicles that 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.” (Section 67A of the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea).
For an excellent overview of the situation, please click here.
For video footage, please click here.
For further information, please click here.
Information provided by the Canada Israel Committee.