Netanyahu issues ‘welcome letter’ as Gaza flotilla is seized by Israeli navy

Activism
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Three Israeli naval ships seized a vessel bound for Gaza carrying activists and humanitarian aid while still in international waters in the early morning hours Monday, said organizers of the convoy. The Freedom Flotilla III, headed by the Swedish ship the Marianne of Gothenburg, was attempting to break the eight-year siege on the Gaza Strip. The boat and its 18 passengers were being towed to a port in Ashdod. It was expected that the activists will be deported.

“It is disappointing that the Israeli government chose to continue the absolutely fruitless policy of ‘no tolerance,’ meaning it will continue to enforce an inhumane and illegal collective punishment against 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza,” said organizers with the Freedom Flotilla. “Israel’s repeated acts of state piracy in international waters are worrying signs that the occupation and blockade policy extends to the entire eastern Mediterranean.”

“Attempting to breach the naval blockade is illegal under international law,” the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson’s office told me; although the representative could not confirm if those aboard the fishing boat would face charges.

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A support team in Greece lost contact with the Marianne at 5 am Monday when it was 100 miles off the coast of Gaza. The last message was that the Israeli Navy was approaching and three other sailing ships in the fleet had turned back for Greece.

A single update on the status of the Marianne was made at 5 am by an IDF spokesperson. The Israeli Navy “visited & searched” the Marianne, commandeering the boat in an “uneventful” take over, tweeted IDF Spokesperson Lt. Peter Lerner.

“We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was ‘uneventful’,” countered the Freedom Flotilla, “because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the ‘Estelle’ were badly tasered and beaten with clubs.” And it pointed out that in 2010, nine passengers of the Mavi Marmara were killed by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters.

Employing a campy tone, late last night Netanyahu issued a “welcome to Israel” letter to the aid couriers. “You seem to have gotten lost” he told the activists, recommending they should have gone to Syria or Iran. The statement also claimed that “There is no siege on the Gaza Strip.’”

“Welcome to Israel,

You seem to have gotten lost. Perhaps you meant to sail to a place not far from here – Syria, where Assad’s army is slaughtering its people every day, and is supported by the murderous Iranian regime.

Here in Israel we face a reality in which terrorist organizations like Hamas try to kill innocent civilians. We defend our citizens against these attempts in accordance with international law.

Despite this, Israel transports goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip – up to 800 trucks a day. In the past year we enabled the entry of over 1.6 million tons of products, an average of one ton per person in the Gaza Strip. By the way, these supplies are equivalent to 500,000 boats like the one you came in on today…

There is no siege on the Gaza Strip, and you are welcome to transfer any humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip through Israel.

Barring the entrance of boats and ships into the Gaza Strip is in accordance with international law, and was even backed by a committee commissioned by the United Nations Secretary General.

If you were truly concerned about human rights, you would not be sailing in support of a terrorist regime which summarily executes citizens in the Gaza Strip, and uses children as human shields…”

Later in the day Netanyahu added that the naval operation was “perfect and precise,” stating, “there is no need” for internationals to deliver supplies through Gaza’s waters because “it is possible to do so via the land crossings, with Israel filtering out – of course – the possibility of transferring weapons through these crossings.”

Since 2007 Israel has blockaded the coastal occupied Palestinian territory, limiting the import and export of goods. As a result the United Nations estimates Gaza will become “unlivable” by 2020 due to the lack of clean water, sanitation, food, and electricity. Before the summer war a year ago, 80% of Palestinians in Gaza required food support provided by the United Nations.

Update from the U.S. The seizing of the boat came up in the State Department briefing yesterday. Reporters were skeptical about the Israeli actions.

QUESTION: Israeli forces intercepted a boat in international waters, named Marianne, heading to Gaza for humanitarian aid. I was wondering if you have any comment on that.

MR [Mark] TONER: Right. You’re talking about the Gaza-bound flotilla?

QUESTION: That’s right.

MR TONER: Right, exactly. We understand, first of all, that the situation resolved peacefully and without incident. It was a compliant boarding, as my former rear admiral informed me before coming out here. Which is good news, frankly; no one was hurt. It was without incident and resolved peacefully. I just would add what we’ve already said last week, which is that we – while we recognize and underscore the need for international support for Gaza’s recovery and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, we remain of the view that there are established and legitimate crossings and established channels, rather, for that assistance to be transmitted through.

Please go ahead.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that the operation was done in the international waters, a hundred miles away from the Gaza shore? It wasn’t even in Israeli or Palestinian territory.

MR TONER: Sure. I actually don’t know where the – geographically the boarding was done. I just know it was a compliant boarding and it was done without incident.

QUESTION: When you say it was resolved peacefully, what do you mean by that? I mean, are the peace activists released? Because the last thing I heard, they were held captive by the Israelis.

MR TONER: I’d refer you to the Israeli Government. I’m not sure if they’re being detained or not.

QUESTION: I mean, you’re not concerned about their safety? They are just peace activists who tried to break a blockade on Gaza for humanitarian reasons.

MR TONER: Well, again, what we’re happy about or what we’re pleased about is that it was – that the – that it was a compliant boarding that took place, that there were no incidents, there was no violence, and it was resolved peacefully. But as to their status right now I’d refer you to the Israeli Government.

QUESTION: Is them being held inside, locked down – is it a peaceful solution for you? You consider this peaceful?

MR TONER: Again, I’m not sure what their status is right now or what the – yeah.

QUESTION: And to have to get hurt in order not to be resolved peacefully?

MR TONER: Well, again, this is something – I’d refer you to the Israeli Government for their comment.

Yeah.

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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12 Responses

  1. Citizen
    June 30, 2015, 10:41 am

    Whether or not Israel’s maritime blockade is legal under international law, and whether or not the Israeli navy’s interception on open seas is legal under international custom is also in dispute.
    Also, in this case, whether or not Israel used proportionate force remains to be seen. There’s already a report of tasering.

    • ivri
      June 30, 2015, 12:00 pm

      Well, it`s never too late to set yet another UN Human-Rights-Council investigation committee to look in great detail and maximum scrutiny of this major, major human-right violation affair – right in the Middle-East. After all there are plenty of celebrity witnesses here: European parliamentarians, intellectuals, artists, peace-campaigners, academics, which know exactly where the source of all evil lies – they have too long a historical experience to be fooled or distracted by other quasi-important arenas and world problems

  2. just
    June 30, 2015, 11:03 am

    His “campy”, lie- laden letter ends with this outrageous claim:

    “If you were to come to Israel you would be able to be impressed by the only democracy in the Middle East that is concerned with equality for all its citizens, and freedom of religion for all faiths. A state that operates in accordance with international law in order to provide its residents a secure life and its children to grow up in peace and serenity.”

    http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pm-netanyahus-letter-to-the-freedomflotilla-of-fools/2015/06/29/

    Carlos Latuff has a great cartoon up:

    “Imagine the world outrage if #FreedomFlotilla was seized by #Iran. But since it was #Israel…”

    https://twitter.com/LatuffCartoons/status/615805777329061888

    Thanks, Allison.

    (btw, “Activists of the Marianne, excluding MK Ghattas & Dr Marzouki, who were already released, now at Givon prison in Israel.#SOSFreedomFlotilla”
    https://twitter.com/ShiptoGazaSE/status/615789729557037056)

  3. amigo
    June 30, 2015, 11:53 am

    I presume they are being served milk from “Jewish ” cows and lashings of that famous “Israeli ” hospitality,(Keep your goy noses out of our business and if you come back again –thump , thump , I think you get the message.),

    I vaguely recall that this is not the first time such a letter was given to Flotilla Peace Activists .Only difference is that Syria and ISIS did not feature in the last one.If anyone knows otherwise , please feel free to correct me.My parents failed but try anyway.

  4. Kay24
    June 30, 2015, 11:59 am

    That letter shows Bibi sarcasm, and also proves he is delusional:

    “If you were to come to Israel you would be able to be impressed by the only democracy in the Middle East that is concerned with equality for all its citizens, and freedom of religion for all faiths.”

    I wonder why the African Jews protested loudly for the way they were badly treated in Israel.

    “Ethiopian Jews living in Israel have long complained of discrimination, and similar protests in 2012 followed reports that some Israeli landlords were refusing to rent out their properties to Ethiopian Jews.
    Ethiopian Israeli Jews’ income is considerably lower than the general population, and they are much more likely to face limited educational opportunities and to end up in prison, according to The Ethiopian National Project, a non-governmental organisation which assists Ethiopian Jews in Israel.”
    BBC article

    Which shows Bibi is not only delusional but a liar.

    This so called “democracy” is only for the master race in Israel. All others and the Palestinians must live under occupation, no freedom, no freedom of speech, and at the mercy of zionists.
    If other nationals must organize flotillas to break through a blockade, it seems the only “democracy” in the ME has not bothered to be more democratic and lift the blockade to make sure all human beings are treated like they are – with basic needs to survive.

  5. just
    June 30, 2015, 12:16 pm

    “Release the #Marianne and her activists #humanrights #solidarity #UN #Gaza #Palestine #ReleaseThe18 #FreeFreedomFlotilla

    Please share, RT and spread the word. These brave people on a humanitarian mission to Gaza aboard the Swedish boat “Marianne” have been “arrested” (kidnapped) in international waters. They are now in Israeli hands with no rights guaranteed and incomunicado without consular assistence. Please, urge your Government, media and friends to participate in events of protests and solidarity with the 18 and with the people of Gaza.

    https://shiptogaza.se/en/Pressrelease/statement-ship-gaza-sweden

    http://pilaraymara.blogspot.com/2015/06/release-marianne-and-her-activists.html

  6. just
    June 30, 2015, 3:43 pm

    Video of assault at link:

    “Flotilla passengers say Israeli navy tasered activist during raid” – See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/breaking-flotilla-ship-captured-israeli-navy-arrives-ashdod-207929279#sthash.hfiNrAr8.dpuf

    ‘Uneventful’, my foot.

  7. RobertHenryEller
    July 1, 2015, 10:30 am

    Apologies if I’m repeating something someone else already wrote. I haven’t read the whole article, or all the comments.

    But is anyone else reminded of the Zionist mythologizing and romanticizing of the ship “Exodus” and similar ships full of Jewish refugees being turned back by the British as they tried to dock in Palestine?

    Anyone else see any irony?

    • just
      July 1, 2015, 10:54 am

      Yes. Irony, and its trusty sidekick, hypocrisy, abounds.

  8. MHughes976
    July 1, 2015, 10:50 am

    Do we know what happened next? There seems to be an obligation under any reading of blockade law to allow free passage to non-contraband goods after a search. Opinions about whetherbthe goods are really needed are not relevant.

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