Fate of Gaza flotilla remains vague

By
May 25, 2010 20:37

Navy prepares to block fleet of 9 ships as IDF awaits PM's orders.




A ship protesting the Gaza blockade

GazaProtestFlotilla311. (photo credit:.)

As the Navy prepared to stop a flotilla of international aid ships which will try to reach the Gaza Strip later this week, the military waited to receive final instructions from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, defense officials told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

In the past, Israel has threatened - as it is doing now - to stop boats from reaching the Gaza port, then allowed them through the IDF-imposed sea blockade. Netanyahu has made no comment on the matter, remaining purposely vague to keep the organizers guessing as to Israel's true intentions.



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Though vague on whether the boats would be allowed to land, officials in Jerusalem were unequivocal in stating that what interests the organizers is not human rights in Gaza, but rather bashing Israel.


The Navy is preparing an operational plan to stop the flotilla of nine ships – loaded with hundreds of international activists and thousands of tons of supplies – which are scheduled to try and break the sea blockade on Gaza by anchoring in the newly-expanded port later this week.

In addition, the IDF has established a joint taskforce together with the Israel Police, the Foreign Ministry and the Prisons Service to coordinate efforts to stop the flotilla and manage the potential media fallout.

The Foreign Ministry and office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories have in recent days launched a media campaign to stress that the supplies the ships are carrying are unnecessary and that Israel – together with various international organizations – already transfers these supplies to Gaza via land crossings.

The police and Prisons Service will be on standby to deal with the potential arrest of the activists, if such a move will be necessary.

'Shops all over Gaza are bursting with goods'

One official pointed out that the flotilla, billed as an effort to bring humanitarian supplies into Gaza, comes at a time when the Financial Times, in a story it ran on Monday, wrote that the 200 to 300 smuggling tunnels from Egypt into Gaza "have become so efficient that shops all over Gaza are bursting with goods."

According to the FT report, "branded products such as Coca-Cola, Nescafé, Snickers and Heinz ketchup – long absent as a result of the Israeli blockade – are both cheap and widely available. However, the tunnel operators have also flooded Gaza with Korean refrigerators, German food mixers and Chinese air conditioning units. Tunnel operators and traders alike complain of a saturated market – and falling prices."

Netanyahu spokesman: They're the opposite of human rights activists

Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said, "These people call themselves human rights activist, but they are the opposite. They have nothing whatsoever to say about the human rights of Israeli civilians who have been on the receiving end of Hamas rockets for years. They have nothing whatsoever to say about the human rights of Palestinians who live in Gaza under the jackboots of the Hamas regime that oppresses women, Christians, and gays - a regime that has brutally suppressed all political opposition, destroyed independent media, closed down internet cafés, and has even made it illegal for a male hairdresser to cut the hair of a woman."


Regev pointed out that in the past the leaders of this movement have come to Gaza and "eagerly had their photographs taken with Hamas leaders. Some human rights activists," he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that existing land crossings were more than capable of meeting Gaza's needs

According to Palmor, 15,000 tons of supplies enter Gaza each week, including  meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, milk powder, baby food, wheat and other staples. In addition, he said, building materials are allowed in when monitored by international organizations who ensure that the materials will not be commandeered by Hamas for the fortification of bunkers.

Palmor said the organizers of the flotilla are aware that land crossing remain the most efficient way of transferring goods in the region. But, he said,  "they are less interested in bringing in aid than in promoting their radical agenda, playing into the hands of Hamas provocations.  While they have wrapped themselves in a humanitarian cloak, they are engaging in political propaganda and not in pro-Palestinian aid."

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