Ehab Lotayef, a so-called member of the Steering Committee of Gaza's Ark asks "How does a boat sailing out of Gaza threaten Israel's security?" in a recent Huffington Post Canada commentary. Well allow me to retort.
Historical precedent shows Israel's need to enforce a maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip to ensure that rockets, thousands of which are being fired at Israeli cities presently, do not end up in the hands of terrorists bent on maiming and murdering civilians. And yet, Lotayeff is of the mindset that Hamas, the terrorist regime that runs Gaza, should control the territorial waters for commercial purposes and peaceful sailing.
Such a proposition would be laughable, if it weren't so incredibly dangerous. In so doing, Hamas would have open passage to establish a maritime corridor allowing them an unfettered ability to transfer Iranian-weaponry to their terrorist bases to be fired on Israeli civilians. It's like asking the New York Port Authority to give Al Qaeda free rein to establish a maritime control over the waterways for leisurely boating and legitimate business ventures.
Even in recent hostilities, 5 Hamas terrorists attempted to infiltrate from the sea, so-called frogmen or amphibious terrorists to kill innocent Jews. Meanwhile in March, the IDF intercepted a major Iranian missile shipment destined to Gaza. When Navy commandos boarded the ship they found advanced missiles with 200km range on board the Klos-C with a payload of up to 170 kilograms (375 pounds).
Likewise, in March 2011, Israeli Navy commandos stopped the civilian vessel "Victoria" as it headed from Syria to Egypt, and discovered 50 tons of Iranian weaponry on board. In January 2009, Cypriot merchant vessel "Monchegors" was found to contain a cache of Iranian weapons during an inspection by Cypriot authorities. Another ship boarded by IDF forces in November of that same year, the "Francop," was carrying 500 tons of weaponry in 36 unmarked cargo crates. Finally, in 2002, the Israeli military captured the "Karine-A" as it carried 50 tons of weaponry from Iran to Gaza.
Israel's well-documented position is that it is well within its rights in enforcing a legal maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip to prevent weapons from getting into the hands of Hamas terrorists. This position is widely accepted by the international community, United Nations, and world renowned jurists. It should be noted that even while enforcing the blockade, Israel has facilitated a regular flow of enormous amounts of humanitarian aid into the territory.
Importantly, the UN-sponsored investigation into the 2010 Flotilla incident on the Mavi Marmara largely vindicated Israel's main positions. Contrary to Lotayeff's suggestions, the ensuing violence began when Turkish activists tried to lynch Israeli soldiers. The Palmer Report concluded that:
1) Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is legal and Israel has the right to enfo1rce the blockade, including in international waters.
2) The decision to breach the naval blockade was a dangerous and reckless act which needlessly carried the potential for escalation.
3) The conduct and true objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly the IHH, included plans to violently resist any boarding attempt.
As stated in the UN Palmer Report: "The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law".
Most fair-minded people will come to the quick conclusion that these flotilla (or Ark) activists like Ehab Lotayef are only interested in confrontation, not aid, violence, not peace in an effort to generate international headlines for their anti-Israel agitprop.
Contrary to Lotayeff's claims, the UN Palmer Report confirmed the legality of Israel's sea blockade which is designed to prevent the transfer of dangerous weaponry to the Hamas terrorist regime, the wisdom of which has been repeatedly demonstrated. Lotayeff's and the Gaza Ark's efforts are nothing more than dangerous provocations and reckless acts that draw a risk for unnecessary violence to ensue.
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