Hamas’ allies have achieved what they set out to do – to push Israel into a corner by provoking a confrontation against the blockade-breaker flotilla of ships and then using Israel’s response to force an end to the blockade against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
If the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza were the first concern of the Free Gaza Movement and their co-sponsors from Turkey and elsewhere, they would have accepted Israel’s repeated offers to allow their cargo to be delivered to Gaza after the Israelis had an opportunity to inspect to ensure that there were no weapons aboard. They refused because embarrassing Israel was their primary objective.
Israel’s blockade, which Egypt was also instituting at its border, is perfectly legal under international law according to the law of blockade which was derived from customary international law, codified in the 1909 Declaration of London and updated in 1994 in a legally recognized document called the “San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea.” As required by this international law, Israel declared the blockade, notified it to all belligerents and neutral states, and blockaded only the area under enemy control. Hamas rules Gaza and is engaged in armed hostilities with Israel, which it has vowed to destroy.
Under international law, Israel can use force when boarding a ship headed for the belligerent area controlled by its enemy Hamas even if the ship’s passengers and cargo were truly all peace-loving humanitarians. In this case, the so-called humanitarian flotilla included a number of non-humanitarian Islamic jihadists, some of whom were armed and ready for a fight.
According to information quoted by MEMRI, the Egyptian flotilla delegation included two members of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc in the Egyptian parliament: Muhammad Al-Baltaji and Hazem Farouq. Two of the Jordanian participants in the flotilla, according to MEMRI, were Wael Al-Saka, a Muslim Brotherhood member, and Salam Al-Falahat, who was general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan from 2006 to 2008. The Lebanese flotilla delegation was headed by attorney Dr. Hani Suleiman, who also participated in a February 2009 Gaza flotilla. In 2006, he signed a communiqué supporting armed resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq.
The Free Gaza Movement, which had organized smaller efforts to break Israel’s blockade in the past, teamed up this time with a Turkish group, Insani Yardim Vakfi (known as IHH), to raise money and assemble the larger flotilla, which precipitated the confrontation. IHH has connections with Hamas and other radical Islamic groups.
Israel was acting lawfully in imposing and enforcing its blockade against Hamas. However, in the international community - reflected at the United Nations - international law is regularly stood on its head. Unfortunately, Israel took the bait, and the propaganda machinery of the United Nations was immediately put into the service of the Palestinian “victims” of Israeli “aggression.”
At the United Nations Security Council this past weekend, the Obama administration sided with Israel’s enemies in putting Israel on the defensive over its blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
The UN Security Council unanimously agreed on a Presidential Statement that placed all of the blame on Israel for the fatalities that occurred during the latest attempt by Hamas supporters to break the Israeli blockade. The Obama administration gave the Lebanese representative who was serving as the rotating president of the Security Council, and his Islamic ally from Turkey who also sits on the Security Council, its blessing. As usual, the UN document contains no context behind the tragic incident.
After the Security Council acted, the rabidly anti-Semitic UN Human Rights followed up on June 2nd with a decision to dispatch a “fact-finding” mission to investigate Israel’s interdiction, having already declared Israel guilty. That same day at UN headquarters in New York, I witnessed first-hand the blatant incendiary propaganda of the Libyan UN ambassador and the Palestinian UN observer as they attacked Israel and demanded another “international” investigation of Israel’s conduct by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. But they must have known something about the Obama administration’s intentions, because they indicated that the United States was now in line with the other members of the Mideast quartet - the European Union, United Nations, Russia - in demanding an immediate end to Israel’s blockade.
Sure enough, senior administration officials were quoted the next day in the New York Times as declaring that the Obama administration considers Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be “untenable” and “plans to press for another approach to ensure Israel’s security while allowing more supplies” into Gaza.
How exactly does the Obama administration intend to “ensure Israel’s security” if the Israeli blockade is lifted? Will it dare cross its Islamic allies including Turkey, a member of NATO and one of the more “moderate” Islamic states until taken over by an Islamic ruling party, which is leading the charge against Israel? I’m quite certain that the answer is resounding “no.”
Will Obama press for a UN Security Council resolution prohibiting the transport of arms and of trained jihadist fighters to Gaza? Even if such a resolution could be passed over the objections of the Council’s Islamic members Turkey and Lebanon, it will be no more effective than its ban on arms to Hezbollah that Iran and Syria regularly violate.
Could some sort of multinational naval and land contingent be put into place to inspect for arms in place of Israel’s blockade? Unlikely, to put it mildly. Does anyone seriously think that the Obama administration, much less any European or non-aligned country, would risk putting its own standing with the “international community” at risk by replacing Israel as an enforcer and confronting another Free Gaza activist ship? Again I think not.
Israel gave peace a chance five years ago when it withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza. Extensive imports into Gaza and exports out of Gaza were allowed until Hamas forcibly took the Gaza Strip over and kicked out the Palestinian Authority. Humanitarian supplies, including food and medicines, continue to be allowed in, despite repeated provocations from Hamas.
Nothing has changed on Hamas’ side. It is still dedicated to destroying the Jewish state. It smuggles arms to use in carrying out its threat, how and whenever it can. It continues to hold Israeli soldier Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit in captivity.
It is Hamas, not Israel, that must fundamentally change, before the blockade can be safely lifted. With the Obama administration’s willingness to reward Hamas for its intransigence by continuing to pressure Israel for more and more unilateral concessions, Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups will only become more emboldened. And that should worry Israelis and freedom loving Westerners alike.
Joseph A. Klein is the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom.
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