As expected, the provocation mounted by Muslim organizations in association with “peace activists” was successful beyond their wildest dreams: There were casualties. They can now continue pointing the finger at Israel and blaming it for everything under the sun. The organizers of the flotilla, a fanatic Turkish organization known under the initials IHH and its European partners, had repeatedly and explicitly declared before setting out that their purpose was to break the Gaza siege and embarrass Israel.

The humanitarian supplies brought on board were just a ploy to hide their avowed objective. Israel did all it could to stop it. Appeals to Turkey went unheeded and that country let the flotilla sail and gave its assistance. Israel offered to have all humanitarian supplies brought to the Ashdod port where they could then be sent to Gaza through our crossings. Israel also asked the “peace militants” to transmit a letter to captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who has been in Hamas custody for almost four years. The militants were not interested in any humanitarian operation. They wanted to carry out their joint Arab-European propaganda offensive against Israel in order to delegitimize the Jewish state, deepen its isolation and provoke an international outcry.

Weeks before the flotilla set sail the Arab media began broadcasting pictures of the preparations together with aggressive declarations by the organizers and the usual slanders against Israel. European governments and media did not react nor did they heed the warnings issued by Israel.

There were no recommendations of caution, and no honest reporting on the actual situation in Gaza. Yet all knew that the blockade had started because of the terror operations carried out by Hamas and the smuggling of weapons. All knew also that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza: Israel lets through dozens and sometimes hundreds of trucks laden with humanitarian supplies on a daily basis.

Unfortunately we are the target of an Arab and international propaganda offensive characterized by the deliberate refusal to present the Israeli positions and indeed anything positive about that country. This is “political correctness” in its starkest expression. The organizers of the so-called humanitarian operation understood only too well that they could go on with their plans secure in the support of the Arab and European media.

AND THEN it happened. These “peace militants” carefully planned their ambush. After having said repeatedly that they would only pose passive resistance, they attacked the soldiers who boarded the ship with guns, iron bars and knives and led to the dire results they were looking for.

Once again, they were fully aware of the fact that Israel intended to lead the ships to the port of Ashdod, deliver the supplies to Gaza and send the participants back to their country of origin. Such a solution would have been acceptable to both parties. The militants would have claimed a moral victory and Israel would have sustained its legitimate policy of controlling what went to the Gaza Strip. But this is not the way of the “peace militants” whose hatred towards Israel knows no bounds. They wanted to cause some damage, no matter the cost for them. After all, suicide bombing is the terrorist weapon of choice and the aim justifies the means.


Did Israel have a choice? It had to stop the flotilla since no one knew who the people on the ships were and what exactly they carried. Had the ships been allowed to go through, others would have followed, perhaps bringing weapons (and who knows, maybe terrorists) to Hamas, a terrorist organization which has made its intent to destroy the Jewish state clear.

Stopping the flotilla was Israel’s right under international law. One can also ask where all the peace organizations and their militants were during the eight years Hamas deluged the south with thousands of rockets. Where were they when Schalit was taken? Where were they when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup? Did they protest the slaughter that went on? Did they protest when so-called opposition leaders were thrown off the roofs of tall buildings? Did they protest when other leaders had their kneecaps shot?

And so now we are facing a full-blown diplomatic crisis. Turkey will use it to the full to harm Israel. Arab states – and Iran – will add fuel to the fire and clamor for the UN to step in and condemn Israel. The European Union will, as usual, put the blame squarely on us – and us alone. In fact it has already started, without waiting for the whole picture to emerge.

It won’t be easy for us for two reasons. Our government failed to prepare adequately for the fallout and did not set in motion the media blitz which would have presented our case more forcibly before the flotilla set out. And two – we can’t expect help or even assistance from anyone.

But if that’s the way it is, that’s the way it is. The biblical words from Numbers 23:9 come to mind: “Lo, the people shall dwell alone and shall not be reckoned among the nations.”

The writer is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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