Once again, a flotilla threatens to crash the blockade of Gaza. Among those on board – a former prime minister of Tunisia. There is also an Israeli on board. Who says he is doing it for Israel. An Arab member of Knesset was also to be on board. He is being condemned by other members of the Knesset.
There are those who argue the flotilla is an attempt to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza. And to bring attention to the plight of those who live there. But others argue, the blockade isn’t intended to stop humanitarian aid. That this is merely a publicity stunt. And that members of previous flotillas have been violent.
Israel’s UN ambassador is asking that body to condemn the flotilla.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed Israeli policy last Friday, offering an apology to the Turkish people for the deaths of nine Turkish citizens aboard the armed Mavi Marmara flotilla headed toward Gaza in 2010. But that apology may have had less to do with Turkey itself than with guarantees relating to Iran or Syria.
“Apologizing to Turkey may clear the deck on one issue to get free reign on other issues,” Dr. Harold Rhode—who worked for 28 years in the Pentagon, including from 1989-90 as the head of the Turkish Desk at the U.S. Department of Defense—told JNS.org. “In almost every case there is more to such diplomatic announcements than meets the eye.”
A short while ago, Israel Navy soldiers boarded the vessels which were en-route to the Gaza Strip, attempting to break the maritime security blockade that is in accordance with international law.
The boarding was carried out following numerous calls to the activists onboard and during different points at sea. Following their unwillingness to cooperate, and after ignoring calls to divert to the port of Ashdod, the decision was made to board the vessels and lead them there.
The Israel Navy soldiers operated as planned, and took every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of the activists onboard the vessels as well as themselves.
Upon arrival of the vessels at the Ashdod port, the activists will be transferred to the custody of the Israel police and immigration authorities in the Ministry of Interior.
It’s not exactly a huge flotilla – two boats carrying 27 activists – have left Turkey in an attempt to – once again – break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza. The IDF saying it will interdict.
Israel’s blockade is designed to prevent the flow of contraband – weapons and such – into the Gaza – to be used against its citizens. Humanitarian supplies, the Israelis insist, get through. But via established channels – channels which allow for them to inspect everything.
A first flotilla resulted in violent resistance on one of the boats – and deaths of activists – straining relations with Turkey to the breaking point. A second flotilla, which was scheduled for earlier this year – was thwarted and never left port.
About 40 Israelis were detained in the Istanbul airport after their passports were confiscated.
The action by Turkish police was reportedly unprecedented. The passengers said they were treated with disrespect by the cops.
Relations between Turkey and Israel are deteriorating swiftly following Israel’s refusal to apologize for the deaths of nine activists aboard a Turkish registered boat that was interdicted during last year’s Gaza flotilla. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed regret over the incident but refuses to apologizes since the naval commandos were first attacked by the activists.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains unapologetic for his nation’s decision to stop last year’s Gaza flotilla and board the ships in search of contraband.
But Netanyahu says his nation regrets the loss of life during a confrontation on one of the ships – a scuffle that resulted in the death of nine activists.
Eight of the nine were Turkish citizens, and Turkey is demanding that Israel apologize for the action. The refusal of Jerusalem to issue a full apology has resulted in a straining of relations between the two nations. And Ankara has expelled Israel’s ambassador to Turkey.
Turkey also says it will be taking the issue of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza to the International Court in the Hague. This despite the UN Palmer report which said Israel has the right to maintain the blockade. But that the IDF conduct on the Mavi Marmara that lead to the deaths was excessive.
At his Sunday cabinet meeting, Netanyahu again defended the intervention. Citing the UN Palmer report, Netanyahu said it supports Israel’s right to maintain the blockade.
“The commission determined what we knew from the outset – that the State of Israel has the full and basic right to defend itself. We need not apologize for the fact that naval commandos defended their lives against an assault by violent IHT activists.”
The prime minister says Israel, likewise, need not apologize, “for the fact that we acted to stop the smuggling of weapons to Hamas, a terrorist organization that has already fired over 10,000 missiles, rockets and mortar rounds at our civilians. We need not apologize for the fact that we acted to defend our people, our children and our communities.”
Netanyahu pledged to the naval commandos involved in the intervention that the government will defend them “everywhere and in every forum.” Yet, he added, Israel is regretful over the deaths.
“I reiterate that the State of Israel expresses regret over the loss of life. I also hope that a way will be found to overcome the disagreement with Turkey. Israel has never wanted a deterioration in its relations with Turkey; neither is Israel interested in such a deterioration now, he said”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been quietly building new strategic alliances, ahead of today’s announcement byTurkey that it is breaking off diplomatic relations with Israel. The rift over the criticism by the UN panel of inquiry, chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer that the Gaza naval blockade was legal and appropriate, because it was aimed at preventing weapons being brought in by sea. Ankra is also angered by the refusal of the Israeli Government to issue an apology over the nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists who were killed when Israeli forces stormed the flotilla in May 2010.
During the interim period, the Israeli Government have formed deep new strategic alliances with
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and his Greek Government, with wide ranging co-operations on military, economic and diplomatic affairs, and have also entered negotiations with Cyprus on a whole new range of agreements, a move which will sting the proud Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Muslim Turkish Government, as Greece has long been the avowed enemies of Turkey, over over two long standing disputes: Cyprus and the Aegean Islands.
Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli Government have also been reaching out to
China to form alternative global strategic and military alliances in the ever changing picture which is the Middle East, as climatic events transpire from the Arab Springs, a move which is expected to worry and trouble both Turkey, and the Obama administration. The Americans are beholden to the Chinese, as China are the biggest foreign holders of US Govt debt at: $1.165-trillion, and China as a new global player are looking to usurp America’s military and strategic power and grip in the Middle East.
The direct result of Turkey’s ever increasing belligerence and hostility towards the State of Israel, and President Obama’s seemingly indifferent and lukewarm support towards the Jewish state, has only succeeded in driving Israel into the arms of new important players in the Middle East, a move which is bound to have serious and long lasting implications for both America and Turkey.
Peter Paton is an international PR and strategic adviser
A mixed report from the UN on Israel’s interdiction of last year’s Gaza flotilla which resulted in the deaths of nine activists on one boat during a confrontation that broke out when Israeli commandos boarded the vessel.
The report says that Israel has the legal right to maintain the blockade. But it also criticized the raid as both “excessive and unreasonable.”
Kuwait has dropped a suit in the International Court over Israel’s detaining of two of that nation’s members of Parliament after they were hauled off a flotilla boat trying to break the blockade of Gaza.