Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 2:55 PM
Subject: The Gaza Flotilla and the Maritime Blockade of Gaza
The Gaza Flotilla and the Maritime Blockade of Gaza
Israel regrets all loss of human life and injuries which came as result of the unfortunate events aboard the vessel Mavi Marmara on Monday, May 31.
The responsibility for the consequences of this politically motivated publicity stunt aimed at capturing the attention of the international media, rests on the organizers of the flotilla, which included elements with links to Hamas – a murderous terrorist organization which smuggles arms aimed at killing Israeli citizens.
Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, more than 10,000 rockets and mortars have been fired on our civilian population. As a result, Israel had no other option but to impose a naval blockade in order to stem the flow of such munitions.
Israel appealed to the convoys of ships to dock at the Israeli port of Ashdod so that humanitarian supplies could be delivered to Gaza via land through existing crossings after being checked for dangerous materials. The flotilla rejected the offer, and one of the organizers themselves said that issue was not about the delivery of humanitarian aid, but rather about breaking the ‘siege’. All attempts at dialogue and reaching an understanding were rejected, leaving no doubt that this was as an act of provocation having nothing to do with a genuine concert for the wellbeing of Gazans. Ships forcing their way into Gaza will do nothing to aid the people there.
International Maritime Law
Israel said that it would use all means at its disposal to prevent the vessels from violating Israeli and international law.
Under international law, a maritime blockage is recognized as a legitimate tool during a time of armed conflict. A blockade may be imposed at sea, including international waters, so long as it does not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral states. International maritime law clearly states that when a maritime blockade is in effect, no boats – including both civilian and enemy – can enter the blockaded area. Any vessel that violates or attempts to violate a maritime blockade may be captured over even attacked under international law.
When it became clear that the flotilla of 6 vessels intended to break the blockade, Israel attempted to intercept the boats and then boarded the vessels to escort them to Ashdod. Due to the large number of vessels, there was an operational need to undertake measures to enforce the blockade a certain distance from our shores.
Five of boats proceeded to Ashdod without incident, while active resistance was encountered on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara. Aboard the ship, Israeli forces were savagely beaten with lead pipes, knives and pistols prepared in advanced by the crew. Several Israeli soldiers were wounded as result of the confrontations, including one who is in critical condition.
Israel will continue to act decisively to protect its sovereignty and right to protect itself. No other nation would accept a violation of this sort.
Humanitarian situation in Gaza
There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Thousands of tons of food, goods and equipment are transferred to residents daily by Israel and international organizations such as the United Nations.
Since January 2009, more than 1 million tons of humanitarian aid have been transferred. That is approximately one ton of aid for each man, woman and child in Gaza.
During the first quarter of 2010 alone, almost 100,000 tons of supplies have been provided, including: 48,000 tons of food products; approximately 550 of milk powder and baby food; 2,700 tons of rice; 40,000 tons of wheat; 185 tons of aggregates; 2,000 tons of clothing and footwear; 20 tons of iron; 25 tons of cement; and more than 1,000 tons of medicine and medical equipment.
In a typical week, 15,000 tons of supplies enter Gaza including truckloads of meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fish, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other essential goods.
Similarly, fuel and electricity needs are being met, and hundreds of Gazans receive medical treatment in Israel.