2011 Gaza Flotilla FAQ
What is the Gaza Flotilla?
• The Gaza Flotilla is a convoy of 11 ships that are seeking to violate Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. The ships and participants come from various countries, including a boat from the United States calculatedly called the “Audacity of Hope.”
• It is difficult to predict the exact date they will arrive, but it is expected that they will arrive before the end of June.
Who is behind the Gaza Flotilla?
• A number of organizations are responsible, all of which have strong anti-Israel positions and political agendas, including the “Free Gaza” movement, the Palestinian Solidarity Movement and Code Pink.
• The Turkish NGO Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH) will not be sending the SS Mavi Marmara, the scene of last year’s violence, but continues to support the flotilla.
What are the motivations of the flotilla organizers?
• Flotilla organizers are looking to make headlines and provoke a confrontation with Israel, more than they are interested in actually providing aid to the residents of Gaza. This is highlighted by the fact that a few weeks ago the Egyptian government reopened its Rafah border crossing with Gaza and humanitarian shipments, such as the “Miles of Smiles” project, can enter Gaza without difficulty. Moreover, the American ship reportedly is not carrying any supplies for delivery to Gaza.
• Also while there is considerable poverty in Gaza, largely the result of Hamas’ extremist policies and actions that have led to its international isolation, according to the Deputy of the Red Cross in Gaza, “there is no humanitarian crisis.”
• Furthermore, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that the flotilla and is neither “necessary” or “helpful.” Similarly, the U.S. Department of State has already spoken out about attempts to break the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza, labeling it “provocative” and “irresponsible.” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also called on organizers to not send another flotilla, but rather, to use established channels to transport humanitarian assistance. The Turkish Foreign Minister has also called on organizers to hold off on their plans.
Is the Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza legal and justified?
• Israel’s effort to examine the cargos on these ships is completely legal under international maritime law. In light of the thousands of rockets fired from Gaza in recent years on Sderot and other vulnerable Israeli communities along with the continuing attempts by the Iranian regime to smuggle weapons to Hamas, Israel’s actions to defend the security of its citizens are understandable. Americans would expect the same of their government if ships from hostile sources were headed near our shores.
• The Israeli Government has repeatedly said it is willing to transport all genuine humanitarian aid to Gaza, but the flotilla organizers refuse to cooperate. Israel also allows for the transportation of construction material to institutions that will not divert it for violent purposes, such as UNRWA.