Just about all of the passengers on board the flotilla of ships that were heading for Gaza have now been returned to their countries of origin and most of the goods aboard the controversial flotilla have been cleared by Israel for travel by land to the territory ruled by Hamas. However, Israeli authorities say most of what they inspected was readily available in Gaza anyway.
The cargo was being carried on six ships that set sail from Cyprus, May 30. In the early hours of Monday morning, Israel’s Defense Forces (IDF) prevented the flotilla from reaching Gaza. The ships, with several hundred activists and supplies had refused Israeli offers to offload the goods at Ashkelon for transfer to Gaza following appropriate security clearance.
One ship, the Mavi Marmara, sponsored by a terrorist-affiliated Turkish organization known as IHH, was the site of violence when Israeli soldiers were attacked as they boarded the boat. As a result of this violence, nine activists were killed several IDF soldiers were wounded. Here are some facts about this tragic incident, provided by Canada Israel Committee.
1. Israel has repeatedly expressed regret for the loss of lives involved in the confrontation.
2. Israeli sailors, attempting to board the Mavi Marmara, were attacked by dozens of activists armed with knives, metal bars, and stun guns. Fearing for their lives, IDF personnel had no choice but to respond. For video of the violence, please click here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LulDJh4fWI.
3. Israel made every effort to provide the flotilla organizers with an opportunity to avoid a confrontation. Israel offered to bring the flotilla into the port of Ashdod, and to transfer their aid to Gaza following appropriate security checks. The organizers rejected this offer, stating clearly that "this mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege." (Greta Berlin, AFP, 27 May 10). Several of those on board chanted slogans hearkening back to the 6th century Battle of Khaybar in which Mohammed’s army killed many Jews. To view video of the chanting, please click here. http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2489.htm
4. Israel gave repeated warning of the maritime blockade in effect off the coast of Gaza and that the flotilla would be turned away and brought to an Israeli port to offload their cargo. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6jDIQr59Sk
5. The organizers of the protest deliberately invited a confrontation with Israeli sailors. This was not an aid mission, but a PR stunt designed to undermine Israel and bolster Hamas, internationally recognized as a terrorist organization. Among the protestors were a group of highly-trained extremists with links to the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist groups in Afghanistan.
6. There is no blockade on humanitarian aid to Gaza. In fact, Israel delivers 15,000 tons of humanitarian aid - including medical supplies, food, and water - to Gaza every week. The blockade exists to prevent unauthorized individuals and unknown cargo from entering Gaza and falling into the hands of its ruling Hamas regime.
7. Hamas is presently smuggling in massive amounts of military supplies into Gaza to fortify its positions and continue its attacks. Under international law Israel has the right to intercept vehicles that are "believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture." (Section 67A of the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea).
Here are some other links to stories and video about the Gaza raid: