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Gaza Flotilla 2 scheduled for June 2011

Mercredi 1 Juin 2011

The new 'Free Gaza' flotilla
Israel respects the motives of genuine humanitarians
A ce jour, Israël a approuvé 130 demandes pour des projets dans la bande de Gaza, qui en sont à divers stades de mise en œuvre.

The new 'Free Gaza' flotilla
Israel respects the motives of genuine humanitarians but reminds them of the following:
1.   UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has "called on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage such flotillas, which carry the potential to escalate into violent conflict… he reiterated that he believed that flotillas were not helpful".
2.   Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Sunday 29 May: "Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza".
3.   The IHH is again to the fore in organizing this year's flotilla
4.   Prominent Irish participants in the coming flotilla who consider themselves humanitarians are allying themselves with Islamist terror supporters  intent on staging a provocative stunt
5.   Not every 'peace activist' is a humanitarian – some are tools of radical Islamists!
6.   All aid may be delivered at the Israeli port of Ashdod, from where it is sent on to Gaza via the land crossings.
Last year's 'Free Gaza' flotilla
1.   The Mavi Marmara (the largest ship in the flotilla) carried 590 passengers but no aid
2.   The Challenger 1, a smaller ship, carried 17 Palestinian solidarity activists, including Irish citizens, but no aid.  The ship's Irish first mate admitted that their motives were political
3.   The chief organiser of the flotilla was IHH, an Islamist movement with proven links to international terrorism
4.   The Mavi Marmara passengers included 40 activists of the IHH who boarded the ship with guns and knives, prepared steel rods cut from the ship's railings as weapons and were filmed using them to violently attack the Israeli boarding party
The realities of Gaza
1.   There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  Food, consumer goods and construction materials are delivered from Israel every day.  For example, in a typical 6-day period 23-28 April, 847 truckloads (20,026 tons) were unloaded at the land crossings.  
2.   Despite the state of armed conflict imposed by Hamas, an average of 50 people leave Gaza every day for medical treatment in Israel.
3.   Israel does not occupy Gaza.  It withdrew all its soldiers and all Jewish settlers from there in 2005.  
4.   However, it must maintain its sea blockade to prevent smuggling of Iran- and Syria-supplied weaponry into Gaza, in the light of previous attempts to land arms by ship and the escalating terrorist rocket and missile attacks from Gaza on southern Israel.
1.     The facts about last year's flotilla
Much important information has emerged in the months since the flotilla incident.  Some of this was not available at the time of the media rush to judgment on the incident.  Other facts were available, but were often ignored by the media or, when presented by the Israeli side, were dismissed as 'claims', implying that they were merely government propaganda.
Among these facts:
·        The Mavi Marmara (the largest ship in the flotilla) carried 590 passengers but no aid. 
·        Shane Dillon, first mate of another flotilla boat Challenger I, told a hearing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs on 3 June 2010, that his boat carried no aid, but did carry 17 activist members of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ (one of these was Dr. Fintan Lane of the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign).   He admitted the political rather than humanitarian aims of the flotilla, saying their intention was to ‘break the blockade’ and ‘open up the port’ of Gaza.  He also revealed that he did not see what happened on the decks of the Mavi Marmara. 
·        The chief funder of the purchase of the 'Irish' ship the Rachel Corrie, Tun Mahathir Mohamad, stated a few months previously that the Jews in Europe had "always been a problem", and that "they had to be confined to ghettos and periodically massacred.  But still they remained, they thrived… [and] held whole governments to ransom.  Even after their massacre by the Nazis… they survived to continue to be a source of even greater problems for the world."  This indicates disturbing evidence of an alliance between some Irish pro-Palestinian activists and anti-Semitic and radical Islamist groups.
·        The Mavi Marmara carried a group of about 40 activists belonging to the Turkish Islamist 'charity' organisation IHH (a group with known and proven links to international terrorism that seeks to overthrow Turkey's secular democracy and replace it with an Islamic state) who had boarded separately from the other passengers.  This group had declared in advance a determination to resist by all possible means any Israeli attempt to stop the ship, expressed a willingness to die as 'shaheeds' (Islamic martyrs) and made wills with this in mind.
·        UPDATE MAY 2011:  IHH on 5 May joined with other Islamist organisations in denouncing the killing of Osama bin Laden.  IHH representative Osman Atalay (who was on the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 flotilla) condemned the killing as 'American terrorism'.  On 11 May IHH leader Bulent Yildirim told Turkish TV the IHH would not hesitate to sacrifice shaheeds ('martyrs') to achieve the flotilla's objectives. 
·        Video footage taken as the Mavi Marmara left port showed passengers chanting the jihadist battle-cry “Khaybar, Khaybar, ya Yahoud, jaish Muhammad sa yaoud” (“.. O Jews, the army of Muhammad is coming for you ”) a reference to a seventh-century massacre of Arabian Jews. 
·        The IHH group disobeyed the orders of the ship's captain, refused to go below deck, commandeered the upper deck and prepared weapons for use against a boarding party, including knives, guns and clubs.  Video evidence shows their use of an angle grinder to cut the ship's railings into steel bars for use as weapons.
·        According to the Turkish journalist Sefik Dinc who was on board the Mavi Marmara and witnessed and photographed the interception by the IDF (his account is published in his book Kanli Mavi Marmara), the IHH members had a well-designed plan to stage a violent confrontation with the IDF.  As IDF soldiers landed on the deck from helicopters, IHH members beat them with steel bars and clubs, captured and held hostage three of them, beat injured soldiers and threw one to a lower deck.  Dinc's account makes clear that IDF soldiers did not open fire until after their comrades were attacked and taken hostage.  His account largely corroborates that given by the IDF soldiers in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
·        Apart from the Mavi Marmara, only passive resistance was offered to the IDF on the other ships and no violence occurred.  All of the ships were brought to Ashdod and their cargo unloaded and inspected. 
·         The cement carried by the Rachel Corrie amounted to 550 tons.  This should be set against the more than 9,000 tons of building materials delivered to Gaza through the land crossings from Israel during 2009 for specific building projects.  The Israeli government committed itself to deliver the Rachel Corrie's cement cargo to Gaza if it could be shown to be destined for a bona fide project and not for making rocket facilities or smuggling tunnels.
·        The medicines found on another ship and inspected at Ashdod were found to be mostly expired or otherwise useless.
·        Hamas refused to accept aid, including 5 truckloads of wheelchairs, offloaded from other ships at Ashdod, when Israel tried to deliver them through the land crossing to Gaza. 
2.     The facts about Gaza
·        Israel does not occupy the Gaza Strip.  It disengaged from there in 2005, removing every single Israeli soldier and every one of the 9,000 Jewish settlers who had made their homes there.
·        The ruling regime in Gaza is Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group that overthrew its Fatah rivals in a violent coup in 2007, and that oppresses women, homosexuals and religious minorities.  Hamas' 1988 Charter commits it to the Islam-mandated destruction of Israel.
·        Since 2001, Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza have launched more than 10,000 rockets and mortars at civilian communities in southern Israel.  These attacks escalated in intensity after Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the territory.
·        Rocket and mortar fire has resumed since the end of Operation Cast Lead, indicating that Hamas has been able to replenish and upgrade its rocket arsenal and mortar facilities. 
·        In a major escalation that began on 19 March 2011, 50 mortars were fired into southern Israel in one day, and sophisticated 122mm Grad Katyusha rockets were fired at the cities of Askelon, Ashdod and Beersheba.  Over the weekend of 7-10 April, 65 rockets and 67 mortars were fired at southern Israel.
·        On 7 April, an anti-tank missile, designed to penetrate 2-inch thick steel, was fired at a school bus in Israel near the Gaza border that, by good fortune, had just unloaded its children.  The one schoolboy remaining on the bus died of his injuries.
·        Despite the attacks and the fact that Hamas holds its own population hostage, Israel continues to monitor the humanitarian situation in Gaza  and consistently works to ensure that all the basic needs of its people are met.  The total of 200 truckloads of materials offloaded from last year's flotilla should be set against the average of 150-200 trucks that enter Gaza each day through the land border crossings, a figure expected to rise to 450 in the second half of 2011.
·        Between the end of Operation Cast Lead in January 2009 and the date of the flotilla in May 2010, 1,068,400 tons of supplies, 139,118,433 liters of fuel and 52,580 tons of cooking gas were delivered to the Gaza Strip.
·        In the 6 months before the flotilla, 9,165 Gaza residents entered Israel with their companions for medical treatment or other humanitarian purposes – a rate of over 350 people each week.
·        Despite attempts by some to paint a picture of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, and the use of emotive phrases such as Sinn Fein TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn's description of Gaza as 'an open prison', the reality is that, as the deputy director of the Red Cross in Gaza, Mathilde Redmatn, stated in April 2011: "There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza".
·        The director of UNRWA in Gaza, John Ging, told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs last November: "[Gaza] is not Ethiopia… what we are witnessing here are first world standards when it comes to infant mortality, health indicators, child development, nutrition, education and so on…The fact that shop shelves can be full is an indication that we can get things into Gaza…"
·        Photographs and videos published on Palestinian websites show shops and food stalls in Gaza fully stocked with consumer goods.  There are luxury hotels and restaurants, a luxury shopping mall, an Olympic-size swimming pool  and a water park.
3.     The legal aspects
·        A state of armed conflict between Israel and the Hamas regime which has taken control of the Gaza Strip
·        A maritime blockade is currently in effect off the coast of Gaza.  Notice of such blockade has been duly published, in accordance with the requirements under international law.
·        Accordingly, all vessels, including civilian vessels are strictly prohibited from entering the blockaded area.  Any vessel breaching, or attempting to breach, the blockade may be subject to naval action to enforce the blockade, in accordance with the dictates of international law.
·        In 2002, the MV Karine A, a ship impounded by Israel off the coast of Cyprus, was found to be carrying 50 tons of Katyusha rockets, anti-tank missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition bound for Gaza.  In 2009, the MV Francop was boarded by Israel's navy in the Mediterranean.  It contained 300 tons of Iranian weapons, including 3,000 Katyusha rockets, bound for Hezbollah.
·        It is known that armaments continue to be smuggled into Gaza from Iran and Syria, which also provide training in their use.  This underlines the continuing need for Israel to try to prevent smuggling of weaponry and explosives into Gaza by land and sea.  That is why it cannot allow unrestricted entry of building materials that can be used to make tunnels and launch facilities.  Such materials are, however, allowed for specific civilian construction projects – 19,000 tons of building aggregates in the past two years. 
·        Ireland has special reason to understand the need to prevent the entry of weapons by sea for terrorist purposes, having had the experience of the Provisional IRA's importation of many tons of arms and explosives on ships from Libya in 1973 (the Claudia) and 1987 (the Eksund), and on the Marita Ann from the US in 1984.  
4.     Conclusions
·        There may be some who are motivated by genuine humanitarian concern for the people of Gaza, having believed the exaggerated accounts in certain media about a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the territory.  
·        The Irish participants in last year's flotilla did not engage in violence against the IDF personnel during the boarding and were not harmed.  Nevertheless, their participation in the venture must be questioned.
·        When those interested in bringing aid to Gazans allow themselves to be led by activists from the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Free Gaza Movement, they show remarkable naiveté and lend themselves to the political agenda of those activists. 
·        These activists have a long record of inciting prejudice and hatred towards the state of Israel and of delegitimising its right to self-defence.  They show little interest in a peaceful solution of the conflict.  Instead, they show contempt for moderate Palestinians and are happy to ally themselves with Hamas and other extreme groups.  
·        Humanitarians who co-operate with such allies should be aware of the seriousness, and possible consequences, of the venture in which they involved themselves.
·        Not every 'peace activist' is a humanitarian! 
·        In teaming up with members of Islamist and jihadist organisations such as IHH, an organisation with known links to international terrorism, anti-Israel activists show that their real agenda is not to bring help to ordinary Palestinian people but to further the agenda of terrorist groups pledged to kill Israeli citizens.
Quelques faits à retenir (update Avril 2011)
• Il n'ya pas de crise humanitaire dans la bande de Gaza.
• Le taux de croissance dans la bande de Gaza en 2010 était de 15%, selon le dernier rapport du Fonds monétaire international.
• Israël autorise toutes les marchandises à entrer dans la bande de Gaza, à l'exception des matériels à double usage et des matériaux de construction destinés au secteur privé (et non soumis à la supervision d'une organisation internationale).
• La capacité du passage de Kerem Shalom (qui a été élargi et amélioré l'an dernier-2010) est significativement plus élevée que le volume réel des marchandises qui y transitent. Actuellement Gaza exporte également ses produits agricoles vers l'Europe.
• Sont autorisés : la mobilité des personnes via les points de passage pour raisons humanitaires (surtout pour le traitement médical), ainsi que celle des hommes d'affaires de Gaza soit environ 300 par semaine (selon permis) et les représentants des organisations internationales.
• Israël a approuvé à ce jour 130 projets en vertu de la mise en œuvre et la supervision de la communauté internationale, comme détaillé ci-dessous:
Quatorze projets agricoles, 10 dans le logement, 41 dans l'éducation; 14 dans la santé, 17 dans les eaux usées, 11 dans l'eau; 2 dans l'électricité, 9 dans les routes et les trottoirs; 5 établissements internationaux : un économique, un pour l'aide et les projets de bien-être et un autre projet.
Concernant les organisations et les états partenaires : 50 projets de l'UNRWA (éducation, logement, assainissement, infrastructures, bureaux); USAID - 44; PNUD - 24, Banque mondiale - 3; Croix-Rouge - 2; l'Allemagne - un; France - deux, Belgique - un; l'Egypte - l'un, le Pays-Bas - une, et une ONG.
A ce jour, Israël a approuvé 130 demandes pour des projets dans la bande de Gaza, qui en sont à divers stades de mise en œuvre.
Projet de reconstruction de l'hôpital d'Al-Quds par le gouvernement de la France (Photo: COGAT)
Projets de l'UNRWA à Gaza (update Avril 2011)
L'UNRWA a jusqu'ici présenté 92 demandes de projets dans un certain nombre de domaines :
• Santé: 4 demandes; toutes approuvées et à divers stades de mise en œuvre
• Logement: 13 demandes, dont 8 ont été approuvées. Les autres sont en cours d'examen. Un des projets a été achevé (151 unités de logement à Khan Unis).
• Installations de l'UNRWA: 3 demandes, toutes approuvées - une achevée, l'une en cours de construction, et une autre prête à commencer.
• Recyclage des eaux usées : 4 projets - un approuvé et achevé; 2 approuvés mais pas encore commencés, et le dernier, un tuyau qui conduira les eaux usées à Khan Unis vers un centre de traitement des eaux usées est subordonné à la construction de l'installation de traitement des eaux usées.
• Éducation: 68 demandes, dont 32 ont été approuvées. Quatorze des projets approuvés sont en train d'être mis en œuvre et deux ont été achevés. Détails des projets demandés : 1 jardin d'enfants, 1 centre culturel à Khan Unis, plus 1 bibliothèque [à l'école] à Jabaliya, 1 camp d'été (2010), 1 conteneur d'expédition pouvant être utilisé comme salle de classe (2010), 8 extensions d'écoles existantes (3 déjà approuvées); une académie de formation de formateurs (en cours d'examen), 54 nouvelles écoles - 26 demandes sont en cours d'examen et 24 ont été approuvées à ce jour.

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