Israel Defense Forces about "Free Gaza Protest"

Publié le par JSS

Free Gaza Protest – June 30th 2009

 

Information

*     At 15:09 on Monday, June 30th, an Israeli naval force intercepted, boarded and took control of the "Spirit of Humanity" ("Arion"), a cargo boat attempting to illegally enter the Gaza Strip. Following numerous calls to stop, which were ignored, the force boarded the boat and directed it to Ashdod port in Israel.

*      Humanitarian aid on the boat will be transferred to the Gaza Strip, pending authorization. The boat crew will be handed over to the appropriate authorities.

*     

THE SPIRIT OF HUMANITY

The boat, which departed from Cyprus at 0730 on June 29th, was carrying 21 activists from 11 different countries, including Nobel laureate, Mairead Maguire, as well as Cynthia McKinney, a former US congresswoman. 

*      The ship also holds three tons of humanitarian aid, including medical aid, children's toys and reconstruction kits for twenty family homes (according to the organization's website).

Background: Previous Naval Protests

*      August 23rd 2008: A naval protest consisting of two vessels – the "Free Gaza" and the "Liberty" – with 40 pro-Palestinian activists of various nationalities (primarily American and British) sailed from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip, bearing medical equipment and food.

*      October 29th 2008: A ship from Cyprus with 27 pro-Palestinian Free Gaza activists arrived at the Gaza coast.

*      November 8th 2008: The "Dignity" arrived at the Gaza coast, carrying 13 European parliament members, together with Arab and European media representatives. The delegation members remained in the Gaza Strip for three days, during which they toured the Gaza Strip and met with senior public figures, including Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas Prime Minister.

Free Gaza Movement Background

*      The organization consists of two major organizations: ISM and ICAHD.

o        The International Solidarity Movement is a highly political movement which claims to support non-violent action. However, their activists are encouraged to take "direct action", often deliberately placing them in harm's way. This has led to the death of multiple foreign nationals in the past. Past activities of the organization including staging violent protests against the Security Fence in Ni'lin as well as abetting terrorists in taking refuge in the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem (2002).

o        The International Committee Against House Demolitions is another supposedly non-violent direct-action group which has expanded its activities from concentrating on anti-demolition activity to other areas. It has a radical political agenda while receiving funds from the EU as well as the Spanish government.

 

Focal Points

*      In accordance with internationally recognized agreements between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority[1], the territorial waters off the Gaza coast are under Israeli security control and responsibility. Therefore, foreign vessels will not be permitted to sail in this naval territory.

*      Multiple ground crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel exist, as determined by agreements between Israel and the Palestinians which are supported by the international community. Those who seek to transfer international aid into the Gaza Strip can do so through these existing channels.

*      The protest claims that its primary purpose is to "break the siege". In truth, it functions as a mere provocation, deliberately flaunting international agreements. In 2009 alone, the Gaza Strip has received over 300,000 tons of humanitarian supplies (see table below). In some cases, this has led to a surplus of humanitarian aid, with reports of Gaza civilians selling extra aid which they possess[2]

 

Supplies (tons)

Fuel (million, tons)

Heating Gas (lt.)

January

35807

2.95

1034

February

74017

11.39

3507

March

75404

9.16

3485

April

61774

10.18

2496

May

47982

8.4

4843

June

17046

3.8

1290

Total

312030

45.88

16655

v      However, once the humanitarian support does enter the Gaza Strip, it is not uncommon for the Hamas to reroute it, preserving their own interests. Civilians frequently complain of unfairness in the distribution process, which favors Hamas-affiliated civilians and discriminates against Fatah supporters.

*      In other cases, convoys and warehouses belonging to international organizations , such as UNRWA, have been commandeered by the Hamas[3]. For example, on January 20th, a convoy of trucks from Jordan entered the Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom crossing and was redirected by armed militants to Hamas warehouses.

*      The crossings remain open, while food, medical equipment and other supplies continue to be transferred. The scope of the activity at the crossings is a function of the Palestinian needs and in spite of the persistent attempts by terrorist organizations to impede them or carry out terrorist attacks in their vicinity.

*      For example, on June 8th, a squad of terrorists with light-arms explosive devices and five horses rigged with explosives were detected north of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, a terminal which has transferred over 45 million tons of fuel into the Gaza Strip since January.

*      Yet another example occurred on June 21st, when a routine IDF patrol near Kissufin crossing discovered 4 explosive charges near the fence. As sappers worked to defuse the charges, terrorists opened light-arm fire and mortar fire at the force.  In addition, the crossings have been a frequent target in the past, all in effort to artificially manufacture humanitarian crises in the area.


*      The humanitarian efforts must be supported in a way which strengthens Abu Mazen and other moderate regional actors, preventing the Hamas from exploiting the aid to bolster its military capabilities or its rule in Gaza.

*      The Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip is a terrorist entity which continues to arm itself and build its military capabilities, functioning as an Iranian proxy in the radical axis.

*      The IDF enforces government policies and protects the states' borders and security. It will not shy away from taking operative measures if necessary. IDF operations rely on accepted methods, adhering to legal requirements.

*      The international community must preserve the international, political and economic pressure on the Hamas as long as it refuses to accept the international community's terms. The Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip is a terrorist entity which persistently targets the Israeli home-front (since the operation, 106 rockets and 65 mortar shells have been fired at Israel) in an effort to promote its force building, preparing for the next round with Israel.

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[1] The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (1995) states that "[Israel has] the responsibility for defense against external threats, including for defense against external threats from the sea and from the air". Regarding foreign vessels, the agreement continues that they may "not approach closer than 12 nautical miles from the coast".

[2] Article published in the Gaza Strip daily newspaper - Al-Ayyam - on April 27th, 2009.

[3] For more information on this matter, view: "The Gaza Strip after Operation Cast Lead", Intelligence & Terrorism Information Section, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e074.pdf [June, 2009] or "Hamas Lashes Out at the UNRWA Chief in the Gaza Strip", Intelligence & Terrorism Information Section, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e071.pdf [April, 2009]

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