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Update – 1 June 2011

Posted by Emily Gian on 1 June 2011 at 4:20pm:

 Dear All,

It seems hard to believe that a year has passed since the Gaza flotilla incident off the coast of Israel which dominated world news for a substantial amount of time.

Twelve months ago, Israeli naval commandos boarded six ships from the flotilla organised by groups of self-styled “peace activists” seeking to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. The ships were said to be carrying humanitarian aid and the commandos boarded to inspect the cargo, looking for smuggled weapons.

The commandos were met with passive resistance from five of the six ships but, on the MV Mavi Marmara, clashes broke out after some passengers (members of the Islamist IHH organisation) violently resisted by attacking the Israelis with knives and metal rods, and throwing one 30 feet down from one deck to a lower one. Nine activists were killed (Eight Turkish nationals and a Turkish-American), and dozens of activists and seven Israeli commandos were wounded. The visual evidence on film clearly showed that the violence was instituted by the IHH members but a massive propaganda campaign was instituted immediately after the clashes had died down and before the ships of the flotilla docked in Israel.
The spin campaign was largely swallowed by many members of a willing media even in the face of evidence that the incident had been set up to create exactly the storm of disapproval against Israel that it achieved in many quarters. The reaction of some was simply astounding (see more).

Jump forward a year, and another flotilla is to set sail in late June with 15 vessels and 1,500 passengers from more than 100 countries and 22 international organisations.

The IHH, the organisation that was behind the violence of last year’s flotilla has been stepping up its propaganda campaign in recent weeks declaring that it is determined to reach Gaza, no matter what.

IHH leader, Bülent Yildirim stated, “we will not even have a penknife, so that the entire world will support the flotilla”. This statement is problematic on a number of levels.

The first issue is that Yildirim has form when it comes to declaring his group has no intention of violence. In a press conference before last year’s flotilla he declared, “we will not even have a penknife, we are a civilian, humane movement”. This is despite the fact that many members, including those that were killed, expressed their violent intentions before the Mavi Marmara set sail (see more). So much for the penknives but there was more …

Worse than the violent intentions expressed before the ship set sail, was the actual violence that took place with a plethora of video and pictorial evidence to prove what really happened. The IHH is continually trying to promote itself as a humanitarian organisation with good intentions for the people of Gaza, but the overwhelming body of evidence is proof of the contrary (see more).

The IHH and the Free Gaza movement in general continue to perpetuate the myth of the blockade of Gaza. The flotilla plans to go ahead despite Egypt’s opening of Rafah border crossing on Egypt’s border with Gaza last Saturday 28 May.  Egypt’s borders were closed to Gaza for four years following Hamas’ bloody takeover in 2007 but the activists aboard last year’s flotilla directed all of their rage at Israel while completely ignoring Egypt’s “blockade” of Gaza.

They also widely ignored the flow of aide that comes into Gaza from Israel on a daily basis and continue to do so. Indeed, in the week of 21 May to 27 May, the week before the Egyptian border opened, 1,248 truckloads (34,012 tonnes) of aide were unloaded at the crossing (see more).

These groups which support the strong hold of terrorist group Hamas on the local population are assisted on a daily basis by many in the western media who willingly ignore inconvenient truths. The day after the Rafah border crossing opened, Age correspondent Jason Koutsoukis filed a story entitled ‘Egypt opens window in Gaza’s dark room’. He has routinely ignored such statements as those made in April by Mathilde Redmatn, the deputy head of the Red Cross in Gaza where she declared, “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach. The problem is mainly in maintenance of infrastructure and in access to goods, concrete for example… Israel has the legitimate right to protect the civilian population; this right should be balanced with the rights of 1.5 million people… Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip is against international law because it is directed at civilians” (see more). He did so again in this article.

The matter of the medical care of Gazans has been misrepresented by many. Koutsoukis told the sad story of a Palestinian woman who can, at last, travel to Cairo for medical treatment. An MFA report released just one day before Koutsoukis filed his story, revealed that in one week alone, 434 patients and accompanying individuals crossed into Israel and the West Bank for medical treatment (see more). 

Israel’s policy of treating Palestinians in its hospitals is well known. Thousands receive such treatment every year despite the conflict and yet Koutsoukis did not disclose this in his article. As the newspaper’s Jerusalem Bureau chief, he would have known this and surely should have informed his readers of the fact? But by failing to do so in a story that suggests a resident of Gaza could only now get treatment in a hospital in Egypt, he is concealing exactly the sort of information that the Israel’s detractors want to whitewash from existence so as to justify the confrontation and hatred against the Jewish State that the flotilla organisers really want to bring to the fore.

There is no reason why there should be a flotilla now that Egypt has opened the Gaza border at the Rafah crossing. Whatever happens from hereon in with respect to this flotilla and those who travel on it, you can be sure that it will be a massive publicity stunt full of drama. We can expect anything to happen when the IHH, the Palestinian propaganda machine and their spin doctors sail into this corner of the Mediterranean. Anything but that which serves the cause of peace.

Best wishes,

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