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JTA: Reid-McConnell letter: Consider IHH for terror list

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Leaders of both parties in the U.S. Senate are urging President Obama to consider placing the Turkish charity involved in the Gaza flotilla incident on the terrorism list.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), its minority leader, circulated a letter last Friday among their colleagues that would press Obama to investigate the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation.

The charity, known as IHH, helped fund the ship Israel boarded on May 31, resulting in the deaths of nine Turks, including one Turkish American, and the injury of seven Israeli soldiers. The ship was one of six attempting to breach Israel's embargo of the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of the Hamas terrorist group.

"Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockage," the letter says. "However, video footage shows that the Israeli commandos who arrived on the sixth ship, which was owned by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass. They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted."

Competing accounts of the melee -- backed by incomplete video footage -- blame both the Israeli commandos and the passengers for starting the fight.

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SF Gate: Plenty of blame to go around in Gaza

When Israel boarded another ship bound for Gaza last weekend and escorted it to an Israeli port without incident, it demonstrated to me that both sides, Israel and the activists, hold blame for the aid-ship melee the week before.

But you can't tell that from the continuing accusations and debate - exposing rank hypocrisy of a scale seldom seen in modern world affairs. Consider a co-incident on May 31, the day activists assaulted Israeli troops as they boarded the Mavi Marmara, prompting the Israelis to shoot and kill nine of them.

In Lahor, Pakistan, that same day, gunmen stormed into a hospital, where they shot and killed 12 badly wounded patients lying in their beds. Those victims were survivors of murderous attacks on two mosques a few days earlier, when 93 worshipers were killed.

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Haaretz: Abbas to Obama: I'm against lifting the Gaza naval blockade

By Barak Ravid

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to lifting the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip because this would bolster Hamas, according to what he told United States President Barack Obama during their meeting at the White House Wednesday. Egypt also supports this position.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once more put off announcing the creation of a committee of inquiry into the naval commando raid on the Gaza Strip flotilla, and the matter will not be brought before the cabinet for a vote this morning.

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Foreign Policy: Israelis Agree With Bibi


A reliable new poll of Israeli public opinion shows that attitudes on the Gaza blockade are heavily hawkish -- in diametric opposition not only to most international reactions, but also much of the Israeli media's own commentary. This finding is the first detailed measurement of Israeli views following the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) violent boarding of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the deaths of nine people. The poll surveyed Israeli Jewish opinion and was conducted by telephone interviews on June 7 by Pechter Middle East Polls, a young, Princeton, N.J.-based survey research and analysis firm working with pollsters throughout the region.

In the aftermath of the recent ship-boarding incident, three-quarters of Jewish Israelis say Israel should not open the Gaza Strip to international aid shipments. Narrower, yet still solid, majorities also say Israel should not accept an international investigation, nor adjust its tactics to win favorable international consideration.

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JTA: Israel approves Gaza flotilla inquiry panel

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel's Cabinet unanimously approved a commission of inquiry into the interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla that left nine passengers dead.

Two foreign observers were named to the commission. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during Monday's meeting to approve the independent public commission that its establishment "will make it clear to the entire world that the State of Israel acts according to the law, transparently, and with full responsibility."

"I am convinced that the commission's uncovering of the facts will prove that the goals and actions of the State of Israel and the IDF were appropriate defensive actions in accordance with the highest international standards," Netanyahu said.

The commission will set its own schedule and protocol, and will determine whether its meetings will be open or closed, according to the Prime Minister's Office.

Retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob (Yaakov) Turkel will head the commission, it was announced Sunday. The other members of the committee approved Monday are international law professor Shabtai Rosen, winner of the Israel Prize for jurisprudence and the Hague Prize for International Law; and Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Horev, a former Technion president.

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Jerusalem Post: Congress shows Israel support

More than a dozen senators and over 60 members of the House of Representatives have issued statements since the flotilla interception last Monday, with almost all of them overwhelmingly supportive of Israel.

In the Senate, former presidential candidate John Kerry (DMA) said that “Israel has every right in the world to make certain that weapons are not being smuggled in after the thousands of rockets that have been fired on it from Gaza... It is not just Israel conducting this blockade; it is Israel and Egypt. So you begin that Israel has this right to protect itself.”

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Haaretz: Netanyahu says Gaza flotilla inquiry will probe activists as well as IDF

By Barak Ravid

Israel's inquiry into its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine last week will examine how "extremists" were able to board the convoy, as well as the actions of Israel's military and government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a conference organized by TheMarker, the Haaretz group's daily finance newspaper, Netanyahu said the world had focused too much on Israel without paying due attention to violent attacks on Israeli troops.

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JTA: OAS rejects Israel condemnation

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Organization of American States rejected a resolution criticizing Israel for its deadly Gaza aid flotilla raid.

The resolution at the annual OAS general assembly, taking place this year in Lima, Peru, was proposed Monday by Ecuador, which has in recent years become close to Venezuela, where the Chavez regime has become a stalwart of international anti-Israel activism.

Only 10 of the 33 OAS foreign ministers voted in favor.

B'nai B'rith International, one of several Jewish groups maintaining close ties with Latin American governments, had made representations to some of the OAS members saying that non-regional disputes distracted from urgent matters, including addressing poverty and crime in the region.

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SF Gate: Israel's Gaza dilemma

Akiva Tor

Why does Israel maintain a blockade on the Gaza Strip and subject itself to international outcry? Simply put, we don't have much choice.

Fair-minded people will recall the context of Israel's necessary, if unpopular, policy.

Israel left the Gaza Strip entirely in 2005 and handed it to the Palestinian Authority. We removed 21 Israeli settlements and 9,000 Israeli citizens against their will in order to advance peace with the Palestinian people. We turned our military bases over to the Palestinian police with color-coded keys to ease transition. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered simultaneously the dismantling of four West Bank settlements to make Israel's intention clear. Disengagement from the Gaza Strip was to be the first stage toward the establishment of a Palestinian state living in peace and well-being alongside Israel.

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Jpost: Pics of beaten commandos published

Turkey’s top daily, Hurriet on Sunday published pictures of Shayetet 13 soldiers – helpless, possibly unconscious, badly beaten and bloodied.

The paper claimed these images were censored by Israel by being deleted from memory-cards when the activists’ cameras were in Israeli hands.

IDF spokesperson said the images, difficult though they are to watch, prove the claims made by IDF soldiers that they fired only because their lives were in danger, those aboard wnated to take Israeli lives. This proves the restraint with which the soldiers acted, the IDF said, the pictures could have been prevented, but because the Shayetet 13 warriors were aware of the sensitivity of the situation and were most careful to distinguish between peace activists and fighters, they came to harm.

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Hurriyet: 'Tel Aviv advocate is within AKP,' Turkish opposition party leader says

Hitting out at the prime minister’s accusations that he is an advocate for Israel, the main opposition leader has said the ruling party should look within its own ranks for supporters of Tel Aviv.

“I am not the advocate of Israel but of the public,” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said Monday, adding that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should examine the statements of his own deputy.

“If the prime minister wants to understand who is the advocate of Tel Aviv, he should look to his right and he will see [Deputy Prime Minister] Bülent Arınç making different statements from the government,” Kılıçdaroğlu told private channel NTV in an interview.

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Ynet: Ahmadinejad: Flotilla raid step towards Israel's annihilation

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke before worshippers at the end of a prayer service at an Istanbul mosque on Monday, and said the "Zionist regime's'" recent raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla is a major step towards its total annihilation, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The IRNA report demonstrates a more extreme tone than the one expressed earlier by Ahmadinejad in an interview to a French television station, in which he said the soldiers involved in the raid should be prosecuted for their "inhumane" conduct.

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CBS News: AP INTERVIEW: Turkish Aid Group Had Terror Ties

AP)  PARIS (AP) - The Turkish Islamic charity behind a flotilla of aid ships that was raided by Israeli forces on its way to Gaza had ties to terrorism networks, including a 1999 al-Qaida plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport, France's former top anti-terrorism judge said Wednesday.

The Istanbul-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, known by its Turkish acronym IHH, had "clear, long-standing ties to terrorism and Jihad," former investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Bruguiere, who led the French judiciary's counterterrorism unit for nearly two decades before retiring in 2007, didn't indicate whether IHH now has terror ties, but said it did when he investigated it in the late 1990s.

"They were basically helping al-Qaida when (Osama) bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil," he said.

Some members of an international terrorism cell known as the Fateh Kamel network then worked at the IHH, he said. Kamel, an Algerian-Canadian dual national, had ties to the nascent al-Qaida, Bruguiere said.

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Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Lose-Lose for Turkey and Israel?

By Soner Cagaptay

Turkish-Israeli ties, born in March 28, 1949 when Turkey became the first Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel, effectively ended on May 31, 2010. This happened as IDF commandos boarded a convoy of ships reportedly bringing humanitarian assistance to Hamas-run Gaza.

Previously, Israeli officials had pleaded with the Turkish officials not to allow the convoy to set sail from Istanbul, suggesting that it would be intercepted if it entered Israeli waters. Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) government nevertheless let the mission sail. In the ensuing scrimmage in the Mediterranean, the commandos boarding the ship were faced with stiff resistance from members of the convoy. Bloodshed followed; troops killed a number of people, and wounded more, including at least 14 Turkish citizens.

This episode means that bilateral ties between Turkey and Israel are effectively over, at least for the foreseeable future. Not only have the two countries lost each other, but they have also lost a bit of themselves.

Israel has lost its second most important ally, a rare friend in a hostile region, and with this a major part of its security. Since the 1950s when Turkey and Israel established a secret treaty known as the Peripheral Pact, Israel has trusted Turkey as the only genuine regional ally, rain or shine. For instance, the treaty stipulated that, if attacked, Israel could park its navy in Turkish waters. Effective May 31, 2010, Israel cannot trust the AKP government to defend it.

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Jpost Blog: In the Trenches: To The Free Gaza Movement

Posted by David Harris

According to your website, you describe yourselves as a "human rights movement."

You proclaim: "We respect the human rights of everyone, regardless of race, tribe, religion, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship or language."

And yet nowhere is there evidence of your respect for the human rights of Israelis, who've been the targets of massive human rights violations by Hamas and other terror groups operating freely in Gaza.

Are human rights indivisible, or only permitted for the groups you preselect?

Actually, you answer that question at a deeper level when you assert that: "We recognize the right of all Palestinian refugees and exiles and their heirs to return to their homes in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.... This is an individual and not a collective right, and cannot be negotiated except by the individual."

In other words, not only do Israelis, who want nothing more than to live free of missile and mortar attacks from Gaza, have no such right, but the country in which they live has no right to exist. That's precisely what your formula means.

So much for being a "human rights movement" and respecting "the human rights of everyone."

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Washington Post: Turkey's Erdogan bears responsibility in flotilla fiasco

Saturday, June 5, 2010

WESTERN GOVERNMENTS have been right to be concerned about Israel's poor judgment and botched execution in the raid against the Free Gaza flotilla. But they ought to be at least as worried about the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which since Monday has shown a sympathy toward Islamic militants and a penchant for grotesque demagoguery toward Israel that ought to be unacceptable for a member of NATO.

On the opposite page today, Turkey's ambassador to the United States makes the argument that Israel had no cause to clash with the "European lawmakers, journalists, business leaders and an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor" who were aboard the flotilla. But there was no fighting with those people, or with five of the six boats in the fleet. All of the violence occurred aboard the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara, and all of those who were killed were members or volunteers for the Islamic "charity" that owned the ship, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

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Washington Institute for Near East Policy: An Ambush at Sea: Understanding the Gaza Flotilla Operation

By Jeffrey White
June 7, 2010

Something has been lost in the heated discussion surrounding the Gaza "freedom flotilla" incident -- namely, an assessment of what actually happened before and during the Israeli operation. Dissecting the incident's serious consequences is important, as is debating alternative Israeli options or questions of international law. But responding intelligently to the event requires a better understanding of the operational details -- that is, how the Israel Defense Forces Navy (IDFN) and its violent opponents conducted themselves.

Two dramatically different narratives of the May 31 operation have already emerged. One is that of an Israeli "assault" on the flotilla and the "massacre" of "peace activists." This narrative has been adopted wholesale by much of the world without critical scrutiny, let alone analysis. The other narrative, put forth by the Israelis, is of a naval operation that went bad when the boarding parties were violently attacked on one of the six ships.

This story is far from over. However, video footage provided by the Arab media and the IDF, as well as accounts by Israeli commando personnel and non-Israeli reporters and activists on the ships, have provided greater clarity on what happened on the Mavi Marmara, and why it happened the way it did.

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Ynet: Hamas refuses to allow aid supplies into Gaza

Hanan Greenberg

Despite international criticism against Israel following a calamitous IDF raid on an aid flotilla to Gaza, it appeared Monday that Hamas was the one preventing the goods brought by the flotilla from entering the Strip.

The army announced Monday that the humanitarian aid brought by the ships had been mostly unloaded, and estimated that the task would be completed in the next few days.

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Haaretz: For the commandos, no fiasco and relatively few casualties

By Anshel Pfeffer

The naval commandos who participated in Monday's raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla have no doubt: They weren't battling "activists" aboard the Mavi Marmara, but terrorists.

"Everyone who was there on the ship and saw what they had prepared understands this," said Capt. A., who commanded one boarding party.

The commandos are dismayed by the view that the raid was a fiasco. They think the level of casualties on both sides was very low, given the circumstances, and that other army or police units would have killed or wounded far more passengers.

First Lt. A. was the 13th commando to board the ship. When he arrived, his comrades were already deep in battle.

"The minute I had both feet on the boat, I saw two terrorists beating one of our group with iron bars," he said. "I brought down the first with a blow to the back while protecting my head from the second with my left hand. Then I was hit on the hand with a baton. I took my paintball rifle and fired paintballs at them. In those seconds I got a blow that broke the paintball rifle, so I switched to my pistol."

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Jpost: 'We had no choice'

When St.-Sgt. S. fast-roped down from an air force Black Hawk helicopter onto the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship on Monday morning, he did not expect to be landing in what he called “a battlefield” and facing off against a group of “murderous mercenaries.”

The 15th and last naval commando from Flotilla 13 (the Shayetet) to rappel down onto the ship from the helicopter, S. said on Thursday that he was immediately attacked by what the IDF has called “the mob of mercenaries” aboard the vessel, just like the soldiers who had boarded just before him.

Looking to his side, he saw three of his commanders lying wounded – one with a gunshot wound to the stomach and another with a gunshot wound to the knee. A third was lying unconscious; his skull was fractured by a devastating blow with a metal bar.

As the next in the chain of command, S., who has been in the Shayetet for three and a half years, immediately took charge.

He pushed the wounded soldiers up against the wall of the upper deck and created a perimeter of soldiers around them to begin treating their wounds, he said. He then arranged his men to form a second perimeter, and pulled out his 9 mm. Glock pistol to stave off the charging attackers and to protect his wounded comrades.

The attackers had already seized two pistols from the commandos, and fired repeatedly at them. Facing more than a dozen of the mercenaries, and convinced their lives were in danger, he and his colleagues opened fire, he said. S. singlehandedly killed six men. His colleagues killed another three.

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Briefing on Gaza Flotilla by John Thompson

Having spent two days examining as much of the evidence as I could, there are two points that deserve to be mentioned.

Israel acted well within the confines of international law and maritime practice in enforcing a legitimate blockade of the Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, in halting the flotilla, the Israeli forces involved in the incident began with restraint. International Waters are of no account, if it is clear that the ship is clearly heading towards a blockaded area… the US Navy for instance, has been known to halt and inspect suspected North Korean ships bound for Iran on the high seas on numerous occasions.

Blockades and interdictions are common, and have been so for decades since the Second World War (where unrestricted violence was frequently used). The normal convention is to open communications and demand the ship ‘heave to’; if it fails to comply a shot from a large caliber gun or a burst from a machinegun is fired across its bows. If the ship still refuses to comply; this is repeated — albeit the shot is aimed more carefully and comes closer to the ship. If the ship still refuses to halt, it is warned once more before a shot is fired at its bridge. If it still refuses to heave to, the blockading force has the right to sink it. Once a ship has hove to or slowed down, it may be boarded by personnel from the blockading force.

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Jpost: IDF says mercenaries to blame for violence

The IDF has identified one of the passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara , which navy commandos commandeered earlier this week, as the ringleader of a group of mercenaries who were recruited from a city in northwest Turkey, according to new details from the military’s ongoing investigation of the Gaza flotilla.

The IDF identified a group of about 50 men – of the 700 on board – who were well-trained and were stationed throughout the ship, mostly on the upper deck, where they laid an ambush for the IDF soldiers who rappelled onto the deck from helicopters.

The members of this violent group were not carrying identity cards or passports. Instead, each of them had an envelope in his pocket with about $10,000 in cash. The defense establishment suspects the funding for the mercenaries may have come from elements within the Turkish government.

According to sources within the defense establishment, one member of the group, who appears to have been the ringleader, traveled to the city of Bursa in northwest Turkey and allegedly recruited mercenaries for the flotilla there.

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Ha'artetz: Israel: We don't want a confrontation with Gaza-bound ship 'Rachel Corrie'

By Barak Ravid and Haaretz Service

Israel does not want a confrontation with the Gaza-bound ship the MV Rachel Corrie, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The MV Rachel Corrie is headed directly for the Gaza Strip with hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid and is expected reach Israel's 20-mile exclusion zone within the next day, a spokesman for the pro-Palestinian group organizing the mission said on Friday.

 "Israel is prepared to receive the ship and to offload its contents.After an inspection to ensure that no weapons and war materials are on board, we are prepared to deliver all of the goods to Gaza," the Foreign Ministry's statement read.

 "Representative of the people on board and relevant NGOs are welcome to accompany the goods to the crossings. We will work with the UN and international organizations to ensure that all the goods are used for the benefit of the people of Gaza."

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Boston Herald: Provoking violence

An act designed to be a provocation has, in fact, provoked violence and the world is shocked, simply shocked.

At least 600 “activists,” more than half of them from Turkey, boarded six boats with the express purpose of breaking through an Israeli blockade of Gaza that has existed since Hamas terrorists murdered their way into power nearly three years ago.

Some, such as the European legislators on board the flotilla, came to make a statement. Others, such as the members of Turkey’s IHH, which helped organize the flotilla may not have had such pure motives. IHH does indeed do some humanitarian work, that is, when it is not supporting Islamic terrorist networks, including Hamas.

Israel had offered to offload whatever supplies were being carried by the ships in a nearby Israeli port, assure that they were in fact, humanitarian in nature and destined for the Palestinian people of Gaza, and relay them through legitimate channels. But that offer was rejected by the flortilla organizers.

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Gordis: A Botched Raid, a Vital Embargo

IN the last few days, Jerusalem has been blanketed by an unusual combination of humiliation and steely determination. How is it, people here wondered aloud, that the same country that tripled its size in three lightning days in June 1967 and then pulled off the rescue at Entebbe nine years later now seems to botch everything?

We lost the 2006 war in Lebanon, believing — incorrectly — that our venerated air force could win the war from the skies. The strikes on Gaza in December 2008 were a military success, but we have utterly failed to convince the world that it was a defensive effort precipitated by eight years of Hamas’s firing Qassam rockets at us, killing and maiming and destroying any semblance of a normal life for Israelis living near the border. And then came Monday’s attack on the flotilla trying to break through the naval blockade of Gaza.

Yet, despite widespread criticism at the way the raid was conducted, few here doubted that stopping the flotilla was the right thing to do. Life in Gaza is unquestionably oppressive; no one in his right mind would choose to live there. But there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza; if anyone goes without food, shelter or medicine, that is by the choice of the Hamas government, which puts garnering international sympathy above taking care of its citizens. Israel has readily agreed to send into Gaza all the food and humanitarian supplies on the boats after they had been inspected for weapons.

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Krauthammer: Those troublesome Jews

The world is outraged at Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey denounces its illegality, inhumanity, barbarity, etc. The usual U.N. suspects, Third World and European, join in. The Obama administration dithers.

But as Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, the blockade is not just perfectly rational, it is perfectly legal. Gaza under Hamas is a self-declared enemy of Israel -- a declaration backed up by more than 4,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian territory. Yet having pledged itself to unceasing belligerency, Hamas claims victimhood when Israel imposes a blockade to prevent Hamas from arming itself with still more rockets.

In World War II, with full international legality, the United States blockaded Germany and Japan. And during the October 1962 missile crisis, we blockaded ("quarantined") Cuba. Arms-bearing Russian ships headed to Cuba turned back because the Soviets knew that the U.S. Navy would either board them or sink them. Yet Israel is accused of international criminality for doing precisely what John Kennedy did: impose a naval blockade to prevent a hostile state from acquiring lethal weaponry.

Oh, but weren't the Gaza-bound ships on a mission of humanitarian relief? No. Otherwise they would have accepted Israel's offer to bring their supplies to an Israeli port, be inspected for military materiel and have the rest trucked by Israel into Gaza -- as every week 10,000 tons of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies are sent by Israel to Gaza.

Why was the offer refused? Because, as organizer Greta Berlin admitted, the flotilla was not about humanitarian relief but about breaking the blockade, i.e., ending Israel's inspection regime, which would mean unlimited shipping into Gaza and thus the unlimited arming of Hamas.

Israel has already twice intercepted ships laden with Iranian arms destined for Hezbollah and Gaza. What country would allow that?

But even more important, why did Israel even have to resort to blockade? Because, blockade is Israel's fallback as the world systematically de-legitimizes its traditional ways of defending itself -- forward and active defense.

(1) Forward defense: As a small, densely populated country surrounded by hostile states, Israel had, for its first half-century, adopted forward defense -- fighting wars on enemy territory (such as the Sinai and Golan Heights) rather than its own.

Where possible (Sinai, for example) Israel has traded territory for peace. But where peace offers were refused, Israel retained the territory as a protective buffer zone. Thus Israel retained a small strip of southern Lebanon to protect the villages of northern Israel. And it took many losses in Gaza, rather than expose Israeli border towns to Palestinian terror attacks. It is for the same reason America wages a grinding war in Afghanistan: You fight them there, so you don't have to fight them here.

But under overwhelming outside pressure, Israel gave it up. The Israelis were told the occupations were not just illegal but at the root of the anti-Israel insurgencies -- and therefore withdrawal, by removing the cause, would bring peace.

Land for peace. Remember? Well, during the past decade, Israel gave the land -- evacuating South Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. What did it get? An intensification of belligerency, heavy militarization of the enemy side, multiple kidnappings, cross-border attacks and, from Gaza, years of unrelenting rocket attack.

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Guardian: Hamas refuses flotilla aid delivered by Israel

The de facto Hamas government in Gaza has refused to accept truckloads of aid offloaded from the flotilla raided by Israeli forces earlier this week.

According to officials in Gaza, Hamas has said it will not permit the supplies to enter the besieged territory until all detained activists are released and Israel agrees to deliver all aid consignments, including construction materials.

Israel agreed to deliver the aid after it forcibly blocked the flotilla's passage to Gaza on Monday, in an assault by naval commandos that ended in the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian activists.

But construction materials, which Israel claims could be seized by militants for use in making weapons and building underground bunkers, were excluded.

The flotilla was thought to be carrying about 8,000 tons of cement and other materials which have been barred by Israel since it tightened its blockade on the Gaza Strip three years ago.

Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed during the three-week Gaza war in 2008-9. The embargo on building materials has left families living in tents, crowded in with relatives or forced to move in to expensive rented accommodation.

"Israel brought five truckloads of wheelchairs to the crossings, but Hamas turned them back," said the official in Gaza City. "It all went back to Ashdod."

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JTA: South Africa recalls Israel ambassador

CAPE TOWN (JTA) -- South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Israel but doesn't plan to cut diplomatic ties, a government official said.

Thursday's action follows Israel's deadly interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla early Monday, in which nine people were killed during a confrontation between Israeli troops boarding the ship and activists.

"The recall of Ambassador Ishmael Coovadia is to show our strongest condemnation of the attack. This recent Israel aggression of attacking the aid flotilla severely impacts on finding a lasting solution to the problems of the region," Deputy International Relations Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim told journalists in Pretoria on Thursday.

South Africa has no intention of expelling the Israeli ambassador to the country, Ebrahim said.

The South African government already had summoned Israeli Ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg to a meeting to express its displeasure at the incident.

"The South Africa government also joins the international community in its call for the siege of Gaza to be immediately lifted," said Ebrahim, adding that the siege had brought "untold hardships" to the ordinary people of Gaza.

The South African government issued a demarche, the strongest form of diplomatic protest, against Israel's action, according to the daily Cape Times.

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CNN: President Obama Discusses Flotilla Incident with Larry King

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ADL: Flotilla Incident Sparks Anti-Semitism and Calls for Violence Online

Expressions of anti-Semitism and calls for violence against Israel and Jews have exploded online in response to the Israeli naval operation to stop aflotilla of ships en route to Gaza on May 31, 2010. The following is a sampling of these online reactions.


Message Boards and Forums


  • Several members of Ansar Al-Mujahideen Network, an English-language Web site on which users distribute jihad-related materials, have posted threats against Jews in response to the flotilla incident. "All Jews should be gassed or thrown into oven [sic]," commented one member whose signature contains a picture of a bloody knife and says, "The only solution is the final solution!!!" A number of other posts include similar themes, including a post that reads: "Jahannam [hell] will be enough as an oven," and another saying, "Do we have someone here who can make huge ovens??" Other posts on the forum read: "Jews don't deserve the right to live" and "the only good Jew, is a dead Jew."

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