By Jay Sekulow
Israel continues to face criticism from around the globe – unfair criticism aimed at a nation that was defending itself with a legal naval blockade to protect its people.
Israel’s detractors both here in the United States and abroad have been quick to accuse Israel of violating international law in its handling of the Gaza Flotilla. In fact, Israel has taken pains to ensure that the actions of its military at sea are on solid ground.
We’ve produced a legal memo rebutting many of the false allegations leveled against Israel. You can read that memo here.
Israel had every right to intercept the flotilla, regardless of the flotilla’s purpose. Israel has imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and has complied with all the internationally accepted procedures so far. Naval blockades are a well established practice in armed conflicts and are expressly recognized in international covenants, including the UN Charter.
Not only is Israel entitled to blockade the Gaza Strip due the existence of a state of armed conflict between Israel and the Hamas organization, but is required to enforce the blockade in practice in an impartial manner.
The fact is that Israel set out to employ minimal force in its efforts to stop the boats. The Israelis succeeded in stopping five of the six boats in the flotilla by using troops with crowd control equipment. When approaching the sixth boat using the same methods, the soldiers were brutally attacked by “peace activists” wielding knives, axes and metal rods. At some stage, shots were also fired at the soldiers. Facing these lethal attacks, the soldiers were compelled to deploy the firearms they had been carrying for life threatening emergencies.
In fact, there are now reports confirming that a leader of Hamas – one of the terrorists organizations targeting Israel – was among those “peace activists” aboard one of the ships.
Consider this report from Israel National News:
“Global jihadists were deeply involved in the flotilla incident in other ways. Approximately 40 of those arrested on the Mavi Marmara had no identification, and many were found to be carrying thousands of dollars in cash in their pockets – the same amount for each. Israeli officials said they appeared to be mercenaries, possibly linked to Al-Qaeda, who had received their remuneration just before boarding the vessel.”
And the blockade has nothing to do with preventing the people of Gaza from obtaining humanitarian aid. Israel makes provision for the entry of huge quantities of humanitarian aid, as well as additional goods and foodstuffs, fuel and electricity, considerably in excess of the bare essentials which Israel is required to allow, subject to security considerations, under International Humanitarian Law.
Israel has established channels for the passage of humanitarian aid through the land crossings between Israel and Gaza. Allowing ships to approach Gaza by sea would enable the smuggling of weapons into Gaza for use by Hamas in its armed conflict with Israel. Israel has in the past intercepted several major arms smuggling attempts via the sea.
It’s apparent that the drumbeat of criticism against Israel will continue. In fact, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to condemn Israel.
That’s why it is more important than ever to express your support for the nation of Israel. Stand with our ally – our friend. Add your name to our petition right now.
Tell President Obama to stand firm – to support Israel – to reject any UN-backed anti-Israel resolution. We must show our support now.