Futile flotilla

"So-called Freedom Flotillas do nothing to advance the rights of Palestinians living under Hamas’s Islamist regime."

Activists aboard a flotilla to Gaza. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Activists aboard a flotilla to Gaza.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Swedish-registered Marianne of Gothenburg, one of several ships making up the “Freedom Flotilla III,” was boarded by Israel Navy commandos without incident. The vessel was towed to Ashdod Port and those on board will be deported. To their credit, the activists on the Marianne stood by their promise not to use violence against the commandos.
But the broad support for this so-called “Freedom Flotilla” – ostensibly organized to improve the socioeconomic conditions of Palestinians living in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip – raises questions about the world’s prejudiced views toward the State of Israel. Listening to the activists, its as though Palestinians’ suffering was solely the product of Israeli sadism, not the by-product of a sustained attempt by Israel to defend itself from a Palestinian terrorist group that has no qualms about causing immense suffering to its own civilian population in the name of a distorted interpretation of Islam – indeed cynically seeks that suffering as a means of disparaging Israel in the eyes of the world.
Many of the activists who took part in the flotilla were respectable politicians. Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki was on board one of the ships, as was Spanish EU parliament member Ana Maria Miranda Paza. Bassel Ghattas, a Knesset member from the Joint Arab List also took part. And while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has publicly opposed using flotillas to break the blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza since 2009, he nevertheless adheres to the stance taken by the UN Human Rights Council that, while it is “fully aware of the need for Israel to address its security concerns,” there must be a “full and immediate lifting of the blockade.”
Yet, as dozens of respectable world leaders demand that Israel immediately end the suffering of the Palestinians living in Gaza by removing all restrictions on the movement of goods and people to and from the Strip, Hamas continues to channel the few material resources at its disposal into preparations for another terrorist attack on Israel.
On Sunday, Hamas commanders bragged to Iranian TV that they have just finished the building of a new fortified tunnel that reaches into Israeli territory.
Hamas troops, within clear view of the border between Gaza and Israel, are carrying out military maneuvers or training in camps like the one established on the ruins of Dugit, one of dozens of Jewish settlements abandoned by Israel as part of the 2005 evacuation of all Israelis from the Gaza Strip. And while it is not clear that Hamas was directly involved in the June 19 murder of Danny Gonen in a shooting attack near Dolev, it is clear that the terrorist organization is intent on extending its influence to the West Bank.
However, instead of denouncing Hamas for devoting so much of its energies to violent resistance and enlisting its very limited resources for the building of terrorist tunnels and rockets and for training terrorist militias, the world continues to denounce Israel for defending itself through measures such as a naval blockade designed to stop ships carrying weapons for Hamas – like the SS Francop and the Klos-C – and border restrictions at the Erez crossing designed to stop the smuggling of arms or materials that could be used to attack Israel.
Strangely, Egypt, which has maintained a much stricter closure of its Rafah crossing with Gaza as part of its crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, has not been subjected to the sort of condemnation reserved for Israel. Indeed, since Egypt has more aggressively combated smuggling via tunnels operated by Hamas, the vast majority of goods that make their way into the Strip get there through the Israeli- run Erez crossing.
There is a very simple solution to Palestinian suffering in Gaza: political change. One possibility is that Hamas will accept the three conditions set down by the Mideast Quartet – the UN, the EU, the US, and Russia.
First, it will recognize the State of Israel and repeal Hamas’s charter, which includes among other gems the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Second, it will abandon terrorism and dismantle its terrorist infrastructure.
Third, it will recognize the agreements and understandings that Israel has reached with the Palestinian Authority.
The other possibility is that the Hamas regime will be replaced by a leadership willing to accept these basic conditions. Until this happens, Israel cannot allow itself to remove the naval blockade or the restrictions it imposes on imports and the movement of people. Doing so would be a dereliction of duty to millions of Israelis threatened by Hamas’s terrorism.
So-called Freedom Flotillas do nothing to advance the rights of Palestinians living under Hamas’s Islamist regime. Their real goal is the delegitimization of Israel and its right to self-defense.