June 11, 2010
On May 31, 2010, the Israeli Defense Forces intercepted six ships referred to as the "Free Gaza" flotilla. The flotilla was attempting to break Israel's legal blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas. Nine individuals aboard the flotilla were killed, including one dual Turkish-American citizen. The flotilla was sponsored by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation, an organization with ties to Hamas and links to other terrorist groups.
Since 2009, Israel has transferred more than a million tons of humanitarian supplies into Gaza. Hamas has fired over 7,000 rockets and mortars into Israel since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. In 2007, the terrorist organization Hamas violently took de facto control of Gaza. Israel's blockade is meant to stop the flow of arms and explosives shipments to Hamas.
TIMELINE OF EVENTS:
- May 25, 2010 - Israel advises Turkey and other governments that it will not allow the flotilla to breach its blockade of Gaza. Israel offers to unload humanitarian goods and have United Nations personnel deliver them to Gaza. Turkey rejects the offer.
- May 28, 2010 - 600 passengers board the lead vessel of the flotilla in Turkey.
- May 30, 2010 - Despite repeated warnings from Israel, the flotilla continues towards Israel's maritime security zone.
- May 31, 2010 - Israel warns all flotilla ships that they are about to enter restricted waters. Israeli Navy begins boarding flotilla vessels, equipped with paintball guns and handguns to be used as a last resort. Passengers aboard one ship resist violently. Nine flotilla passengers are killed and seven Israeli soldiers are injured in the fight.
- June 1, 2010 - Israel coordinates the transport of all humanitarian goods from the flotilla to the Gaza Strip.
FLOTILLA DESIGNED TO PROVOKE
- The primary mission of the Gaza flotilla was not to provide humanitarian relief to Gaza, but rather to provoke a confrontation with Israel. According to Greta Berlin, one of the flotilla's leaders, "This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege on 1.5 million Palestinians."
- The Obama Administration's deputy representative to the United Nations has even stated that, "direct delivery by sea [of humanitarian supplies] is neither appropriate nor responsible."
- While intercepting the six flotilla ships, Israeli forces were immediately attacked upon boarding one of them. The Israeli soldiers were attacked with crowbars, clubs, pepper spray, knives, and shot at with guns stolen from the soldiers. The Israelis were compelled to use firearms in self-defense.
WHO WAS BEHIND THE FLOTILLA?
- The Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation was responsible for launching the Gaza flotilla and purchased three of the six ships. The organization was founded in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1995 and has ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups.
- Several of the group's senior members were detained for planning to fight alongside mujahedeen in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya. In 1996, the CIA identified the organization as a radical Islamic humanitarian organization.
- In May 2008, Israel outlawed the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation after uncovering that it had become a major cog in Hamas' global fundraising system.
- In April 2010, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that this organization, "[O]ffered help and stood beside our side during the war."
WHAT'S WRONG WITH A UN INQUIRY?
- On June 2, 2010, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted to condemn "in the strongest terms the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla of ships" and subsequently called for an international investigation. This inquiry into the Gaza flotilla incident will likely degenerate into an exercise in anti-Israel pronouncements. 33 of the most recent 40 resolutions (83 percent) passed by the Human Rights Council have condemned Israel. Current member states of the Human Rights Council include Cuba, Libya, and Saudi Arabia.
- In September 2009, the U.N. released a biased report-the so-called Goldstone Report-accusing Israel of "war crimes" in Gaza and possibly even "crimes against humanity." The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report, condemning Israel, and encouraging other U.N. bodies to take action on the report. The report reflected the bias at the U.N. against the democratic State of Israel, a strong U.S. ally. On November 3, 2009, the House of Representatives voted 344-36 to call on the President and Secretary of State to oppose any endorsement or further consideration of the Goldstone Report.
THE U.S. MUST STAND WITH ISRAEL
- Israel-a democracy, free market economy, and American ally-fights daily for its existence on the front line of the global war on terrorism. The defeat of terrorist groups and the regimes waging war on Israel is not only a necessity for Israel's survival but is also in the core national security interest of the U.S. Like all democratic nations, Israel has the sovereign right and duty to defend its citizens from attack.
- The Obama Administration needs to make clear that the U.S. will not take part in a biased U.N. investigation of Israel, nor any attempt by the U.N. to undermine Israel's sovereignty and its right to defend itself.
- Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Peter King (R-NY) has introduced legislation (H.R. 5501) which would: (1) Remove the U.S. from the U.N. Human Rights Council; (2) Dictate that the U.S. may not contribute to the U.N. any funds to be used to pay for an investigation into the flotilla incident; and (3) Express the sense of Congress that: The U.S. stands with the Israeli government and its people, supports Israel's unconditional right to defend itself, supports Israel's naval blockade of Gaza and that the U.S. should oppose any UN investigation into the flotilla incident
For additional information, contact:
The House Republican Conference Policy Office