June 12, 2010

Statement to Media


OPINION: Future historians will puzzle over the western media’s portrayal of the flotilla activists as humanitarians, ignoring evidence of motive 

AN IMPARTIAL historian analysing, 20 years hence, the events of last week surrounding Israel’s interception of the Gaza “Freedom Flotilla”, will be perplexed by several aspects of the media coverage of the episode. One would expect that, by then, the salient facts will be available to all and agreed upon by those who share a commitment to the truth. 

The first and most obvious of these facts is the difference in outcome between six of the flotilla ships, including the Rachel Corrie, and the remaining one, the Mavi Marmara, on which the regrettable loss of life occurred. On the former, only passive resistance was offered to Israeli personnel and the ships were peacefully escorted to the port of Ashdod. Our historian will wonder at media headlines that portrayed Israeli commandos as opening fire, unprovoked, on unarmed men and women trying only to bring aid materials to the “besieged” inhabitants of Gaza. If this had been the case, why the offer to unload the aid cargos at Ashdod in Israel? And why no violence on six of the seven ships? 

Regarding the seventh ship, the facts now emerging will tell a very different story from the western media’s rushed judgment of the affair. Already in the public arena was the Al Aqsa TV interview of May 30th and the Guardian newspaper report of June 3rd in which members of the IHH “charity”, a jihadist organisation with proven links to Al Qaeda and Hamas, spoke of their wish to “die as martyrs”. 

There was also the video footage (now available on YouTube) showing the Mavi Marmara passengers leaving port chanting “Khaybar, Khaybar, ya Yahoud, jaish Muhammad sa yaoud” (“.. O Jews, the army of Muhammad will return”) a reference to a seventh-century slaughter of Arabian Jews that has become a modern jihadist battle-cry.

{ It was reference to a 7th Century massacre of Jews that ended the Jewish presence in Arabia…important emphasis – 4international]

Lastly, there was the footage of the answer sent to the Israeli ship that warned the Mavi Marmara it was approaching the blockade: “Shut up, go back to Auschwitz . . . don’t forget 9/11”. Our historian will puzzle over the media’s ignoring of this evidence of motive, and its portrayal of such self-styled warriors as “humanitarians”. 

Interviews with the detained passengers of the Mavi Marmara are now confirming that the violence met by the Israeli commandos as they boarded the ship was not spontaneous but an organised, premeditated action carried out by a hardcore of approximately 40 IHH operatives, recruited specially for the mission. This group boarded at Istanbul without undergoing security checks, while the other 500 or so passengers boarded at Antalya after a full check. (It is also emerging that the Mavi Marmara, the biggest ship in the flotilla, carried no humanitarian aid at all; only personal possessions and extremely large sums of money were found on board).

[Another great point here…They boarded without checks…this is a big factor in the analysis, which shows that the Turkish Islamist regime of Erdogan was behind all of this]

The hardcore took over the upper deck and set up a communications room. They took control of the ship using walkie-talkies and restricted the movements of the other passengers and crew. As they approached the blockade, they sent ordinary passengers below, donned ceramic vests and gas masks, and armed themselves with weapons such as knives, axes, hammers, slingshots, wooden clubs and steel rods cut in advance from the ship’s railings using angle grinders. This latter action appears to have been carried out contrary to the captain’s orders. 

The IHH operatives were instructed not to allow the Israeli soldiers to board. They successfully repelled the attempts to board the ship from corvettes using grappling hooks. When Israeli commandos landed one by one by rope from a helicopter, they were surrounded by these IHH operatives and beaten severely with the weapons already prepared. Once again, these facts are corroborated by video footage. Initially under strict orders not to open fire, the Israeli commandos had anticipated at worst a riot-control situation, not a violent ambush. Only when several of them had been beaten, shot and stabbed and it was clear that they were fighting for their lives did they open fire. 

Our historian of the future will find it curious that, in an age of instant video documentation, the Irish media showed so little interest in revisiting their initial hasty judgments of the whole episode. (S)he will also remark on the very different portrayals of the Israeli soldiers and the IHH activists given in the western media and those of the Islamic world. While the former paint the Israelis as brutal, shoot-first aggressors and the IHH as weak victims, the Turkish paper Hurriyet proudly showed photographs, taken with the cameras of the jihadist-humanitarians, of Israelis as bloodied prisoners humiliated by the ‘warriors of Islam’.

[ This is a great point the Ambassador makes. It is the difference between the Master (Islam) and the dhimmi (the western Media)!]

Another aspect of the affair that will perplex our historian will be the media’s focus on Israel’s interception as taking place in international waters, and their characterisation of Israel’s Gaza blockade as ‘illegal’, as if no historical precedents or legal justification existed for either. 

Under the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, maritime blockades are a legitimate measure that may be implemented as part of an armed conflict, and are included as such in the naval handbooks of several western countries. A blockade may be enforced in international waters so long as it does not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral states. 

A state of armed conflict exists between Israel and Hamas, which forms part of the Iranian strategy aimed at encircling Israel with hostile forces in furtherance of its declared goal of “wiping it off the map”. Many of the 1,350 rockets fired into southern Israel by Hamas in 2008 alone were of the sophisticated Grad 2 type smuggled into Gaza from Iran. It is worth remembering that Israel has intercepted two ships sent by Iran, the Francop destined for Hizbullah in 2009, the Karine A destined for Hamas in 2002, each carrying large supplies of weapons and war material. 

In the case of the Gaza flotilla, Israel acted perfectly legally in (i) warning the boats of the existence of the blockade and providing them with its precise co-ordinates through the accepted maritime channels, (ii) asking them to change course and to take their cargo to the port of Ashdod, (iii) when these notices were rejected, warning them that they faced being boarded and commandeered by its navy. Finally, our future historian, while aware that Israel restricted the entry of certain items into Gaza, will read with amazement of the woman in a Gaza market who told Danish journalist Steffen Jensen in 2010: “We have nothing. We need everything! Food, drinks . . . everything!” The woman spoke of this doomsday scenario while standing, according to Jensen, between ‘mountains of vegetables, fruit, eggs, poultry and fish . . .’ The historian will be able to see visual corroboration of this in the pictures published in Gaza newspapers and on Palestinian websites in 2009-10 that show Gaza food stalls laden with supplies. 

While aware that life in Gaza was difficult, (s)he will wonder all the more at the persistence of the claim of the ‘humanitarian crisis’, and the gullibility of well-intentioned westerners in accepting the Hamas propaganda of victimhood. 

Having calmly analysed the staged made-for-media event of the 2010 “Freedom Flotilla”, she or he will see it for what it is: merely the latest phase in an ongoing war to undermine the state of Israel. The enemies of the Jewish state, having failed over 62 years to defeat it either in open frontal attack or by terror and rocket campaigns, had resorted to a different tactic: the delegitimisation of its right to defend itself. 

Zion Evrony is ambassador of Israel to Ireland

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