Posted by Emily Gian on 30 June 2011 at 3:22pm:
The Zionist Federation of Australia, together with the Zionist Councils in each state, is dedicated to bringing you the most up-to-date information about the Flotilla as it comes through. Please bookmark this page and keep checking back.
Twelve months ago, six ships set sail from Turkey with the aim of breaking Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza. The ships, said to be carrying humanitarian aid, were intercepted in international waters by Israeli naval commandos for the purpose of inspecting the cargo, in particular to look for smuggled weapons. The commandos were met with passive resistance from five of the six ships. However, on the sixth ship, the MV Mavi Marmara, clashes broke out after some passengers (it was later ascertained these were members of the Islamist IHH organisation) violently resisted by attacking the soldiers even before they were able to come on board 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) while 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 by opponents of Israel even as the clashes were continuing.
2011 – Another Flotilla is on the way, but is there a humanitarian crisis in Gaza?
One year on and, despite a relaxation of the blockade by Israel and the opening up of the Rafah crossing to Gaza from Egypt in late May, the Free Gaza movement continues to perpetuate the myth of the blockade with Gaza (Egypt’s borders were closed to Gaza for four years following Hamas’ bloody takeover in 2007). The activists aboard last year’s flotilla directed all of their rage at Israel while completely ignoring Egypt’s “blockade” of Gaza.
A second flotilla is now on its way.
In April, Mathilde Redmatn, the deputy head of the Red Cross in Gaza declared, ‘There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach”.
Today, a large number of goods can freely enter Gaza. The exception to this is weapons and materials that can be readily made into weapons.
On 15 March 2011, the IDF intercepted the cargo vessel “Victoria” en route to Egypt on which as many as 50 tons of Iranian weaponry was found concealed behind sacks of lentils and cotton. For this reason alone it is Israel’s duty to stop such ships from entering Gaza.
In the meantime, Israel is very transparent about just how much aid comes across the border from Israel into Gaza on a daily basis. At the start of June it was noted that there was a 128% increase in the volume of truckloads transferred through the crossings compared to the month before, showing that each month, the number of materials are only increasing.
It can be seen that the flotilla is nothing more than a cynical publicity stunt, which is not surprising since the supposed “aid” from last year did not constitute humanitarian aid; it was not packaged properly, and consisted of a large amount of medical supplies that had either expired or were due to expire soon.
Additionally, the shipment of goods as humanitarian aid is generally not the accepted method. For example, Canada’s Red Cross states: In-kind donations of food, clothing and other items, while well intentioned, are not the best way to help those in need. There are tremendous processing and transportation costs involved in shipping these items to beneficiaries. Local purchases of food and clothing are more culturally appropriate and effective.
There is also the very real possibility that this year’s flotilla will turn violent, just as last year’s flotilla did. Israel has been notified that several extremists are embedded among the Gaza flotilla participants had recently claimed that they intend on “shedding the blood of IDF soldiers”. Additionally, it has been reported than chemical substances have been brought on to be used against Israeli soldiers. At least two activists aboard this year’s flotilla have connections with Hamas.
The Zionist Federation of Australia, together with the Zionist Council of Victoria, will continue to provide more in depth information pertaining to:
• Updates on the flotillas’ movements including any video footage that may become available
• International strategies / steps to stop or reduce the impact of the flotilla
• Official comment from Israel
Visit www.zfa.com.au for more information and please distribute widely.