Flotilla’s purpose was to save Hamas regime

Dangot tells Turkel Commission that intention was not to help Gazan civilian population.

The aim of the Mavi Marmara, which led a flotilla of seven ships to break Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip, was not to help the Palestinian civilian population but to shore up the Hamas regime, Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, told the Turkel Commission on Tuesday.
“Gaza was not facing a humanitarian crisis but a monetary crisis,” after Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing and choked off the supply of cash to the Hamas government, he told the commission. “If there was any reason for the flotilla, it was only to give legitimacy to Hamas and for no other reason because there was no [other] crisis in Gaza which necessitated it.” Dangot explained that the Hamas regime needed the money to pay the salaries of its employees. The Mavi Marmara, he continued, was not carrying humanitarian goods, but was carrying a large amount of money.
According to Dangot, Israel had originally planned to continue its policy of allowing goods into the Gaza Strip according to the agreements reached with the Palestinian Authority after the disengagement from Gaza in September 2005, even after Hamas won the Palestinian Authority elections in 2006.
He said Hamas was responsible for the fact that Israel eventually changed its policy. For example, Hamas attacks on the border crossings where goods entered the Gaza Strip forced Israel to close them down and move them to safer locations.
The most outstanding example was the Karni border crossing where most of the truck traffic was concentrated. In its heyday, 400 trucks entered Gaza each day, while 200 trucks carrying Gaza exports entered Israel on their way to Ashdod port. However, Karni has been closed after terror attacks and Kerem Shalom has become the main crossing.
The Canadian observer to the commission, Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Ken Watkin, asked Dangot three times to tell him whether there was or had been starvation in Gaza and, if not, why so many international humanitarian organizations maintained that there was a crisis. He was apparently not satisfied by Dangot’s answers. But after Watkin asked the question for the third time, Dangot lost some of his diplomatic veneer.
“The one who is responsible for all this is the Hamas,” he told Watkin. “They have caused inestimable damage. There have been night attacks [against Israel] for years. All of this because of a terrorist organization which set its aim to kill Israelis while refusing to recognize the State of Israel.”
Earlier, Watkin quoted from a report by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) which stated that 75 percent of the civilian population in Gaza suffered from “food insecurity” after Operation Cast Lead. Dangot replied that OCHA never asked for an Israeli response to its reports and that, furthermore, “The population of Gaza is absolutely not starving. There is no starvation in Gaza and there never has been.”
Despite the Hamas attacks, Israel had consistently maintained the level of goods it allowed into Gaza, Dangot said.
Recently, the Palestinians have asked for less fuel than the amount allowed by Israel, not because of Israeli sanctions but because Hamas had failed to pay debts to the PA and so the PA ordered less fuel for Gaza. Dangot complained that no one publicized this development, as the world media had when the Hamas government claimed Israel was responsible for the lack of fuel, and therefore, the lack of electricity, in the Gaza Strip.