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June 2, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Flotilla Lynchers Have Ties to Global Jihad - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    The ongoing interrogation of passengers who were aboard the Marmara - the Gaza aid flotilla's flagship - revealed that the majority of those who attacked the Israeli Navy commandos boarding the ship have direct and indirect Global Jihad ties, mainly to al-Qaeda.
    Israel's investigation has revealed some 100 people infiltrated the activists with the explicit design to attack Israeli soldiers.
    The majority of suspects are Turks, but some are Yemenites and Indonesians.
    The suspects are not cooperating with investigators and most of them have no identification papers. Nevertheless, it is clear that the majority were recruited by the same IHH handlers who organized the flotilla.
    See also IDF: Global Jihad Links on Flotilla - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    During its searches of the Mavi Marmara on Tuesday, the IDF discovered a cache of bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, as well as gas masks.
    Some of the passengers were carrying envelopes packed with thousands of dollars in cash.
    Another two ships are expected to attempt to enter Israeli waters in the coming days. Navy sources said that the ships would be intercepted.

Boatloads of Bloody-Minded Pacifists - Andrew Bolt (Daily Telegraph-Australia)
    Only on one of six ships did the Israelis meet resistance - on the Mavi Marmara, supplied by a Turkish "humanitarian relief fund" known as IHH.
    In 2001, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the prominent French counter-terrorism magistrate, testified in the trial of the "Millennium bomber" that IHH had played "an important role" in the plot to blow up Los Angeles airport.
    In 2006, Turkish security forces raided IHH's Istanbul bureau and found firearms, explosives and bomb-making instructions. Turkish investigators concluded this "charity" was sending jihadists to Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan.
    Arab television showed a woman on the Mavi Marmara exulting: "We await one of two good things - to achieve martyrdom or reach the shore of Gaza."
    She said: "These are people who wish to be martyred for the sake of Allah. As much as they want to reach Gaza, the other option is more desirable to them." They got just what they wanted, then.

Arab Media: Flotilla Participants Writing Wills, Preparing for Martyrdom (MEMRI)
    In Friday sermons, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Muhammad Badi' expressed support for Hamas, frequently reiterating harsh statements in favor of jihad and of the armed struggle in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
    The Egyptian flotilla delegation included two members of the Muslim Brotherhood bloc in the Egyptian parliament: Muhammad Al-Baltaji, deputy secretary-general of the Brotherhood bloc, and Hazem Farouq.
    The Jordanian flotilla delegation included Muslim Brotherhood activists such as delegation head Wael Al-Saka and Salam Al-Falahat, who was general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan from 2006 to 2008.
    Prominent activists in the Yemeni flotilla delegation were three MPs from the Al-Islah party, an Islamist party that is close to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Peres: Soldiers Were Beaten for Being Humane - Ahiya Raved (Ynet News)
    President Shimon Peres said Tuesday that he was proud of the operation and conduct of the Israel Navy commandos who participated in the raid of the aid flotilla heading to Gaza Monday.
    Peres said that "the soldiers were beaten just because they did not want to kill anyone. Any other army would have immediately used their guns."
    "What we saw was an exemple of troops who preferred getting hurt over hurting someone else."

Defense Minister Barak: "There Is No Reward for the Weak" (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met Wednesday with the Navy commando unit that participated in the IDF raid of the "Free Gaza" flotilla. "I have come on behalf of the Israeli government to thank you," he said.
    "We are not in Western Europe: here there is no reward for the weak, there is no second chance for those who do not know how to defend themselves....You did exactly what you were supposed to do," he added.

Israeli Flotilla Raid Was Justified - Jay Ambrose (Orange County Register)
    The Israelis are once more trying to keep people from killing them.
    I know, it's "disproportionate" to fight back. That's the word French President Nicolas Sarkozy used, and I guess if he had been attacked with metal poles, baseball bats and knives, he would have done the proportionate thing and let these monsters beat him to death.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Turkish Funds Helped Group Test Blockade of Gaza - Sabrina Tavernise and Michael Slackman
    Since 2007, a small group of hard-core activists has repeatedly tried to sail cargo-laden ships into Gaza in an effort to thwart Israel's blockade. But when the Free Gaza Movement teamed up with the much wealthier Turkish IHH to assemble a flotilla, it became more than a nuisance, supercharged by the group's money, manpower and symbolic resonance into what Israel sees as a serious and growing threat. IHH bought three boats, including the Mavi Marmara, from a company owned by the Istanbul city government for $1.8 million. "This is an Islamist charity, quite fundamentalist, quite close to Hamas," said Henri J. Barkey, a professor of international relations at Lehigh University. "They say they do charity work, but they've been accused of gunrunning and other things, and their rhetoric has been inflammatory against Israel and sometimes against Jews."  (New York Times)
        See also The Terror Finance Flotilla - Jonathan Schanzer (Weekly Standard)
  • UN Report Says Iran Has Fuel for 2 Nuclear Weapons - David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
    A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency declared Monday that Iran has now produced a stockpile of nuclear fuel that experts say would be enough, with further enrichment, to make two nuclear weapons. The report says that Iran has expanded work at one of its nuclear sites. It also describes, step by step, how inspectors have been denied access to a series of facilities, and how Iran has refused to answer inspectors' questions on a variety of activities, including the "possible existence" of "activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile." The inspectors reported that Iran had installed a second group of centrifuges which could improve its production of the 20 percent enriched fuel. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: Blockade of Gaza Still Necessary - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the political-security cabinet on Tuesday that Israel's naval blockade was still necessary to prevent weapons from being smuggled into Gaza. "We know from the experience of Operation Cast Lead that the weapons entering Gaza are being turned against our civilians," Netanyahu said. "Gaza is a terror state funded by the Iranians, and therefore we must try to prevent any weapons from being brought into Gaza by air, sea and land."
        He emphasized that the large amounts of weapons that could be brought by sea made the threat a completely different affair. "Opening a naval route to Gaza will present an enormous danger to the security of our citizens. Therefore, we will stand firm on our policy of a naval blockade and of inspecting incoming ships." "It's true that there is international pressure and criticism of this policy, but [the world] must understand that it is crucial to preserving Israel's security and the right of the State of Israel to defend itself."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Flotilla's Aim Was to Open Sea Corridor for Hamas - Yaakov Lappin
    Ely Karmon, a senior security analyst at the Institute for Counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, said Tuesday that "the real force behind" the flotilla was "several Hamas front organizations and especially the Turkish IHH, a radical Islamic organization close to the Muslim Brotherhood. IHH supports Hamas materially and its strategy of armed struggle, and [was] outlawed by Israel in 2008." The flotilla's aim was to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza, thereby enabling Hamas to import long-range missiles, as Hizbullah has been doing in recent years in Lebanon, Karmon said. "Israel cannot permit itself to have a Hizbullah-like entity on its southern border, 60 km. from its heavily populated central region."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Turkey: From Friend to (Almost Certainly) Foe - Ely Karmon
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has followed a manifest anti-Israeli policy since 2006. Leaders of his AKP party feel close to Hamas, at the expense of the Palestinian Authority. In spite of Israel's diplomatic attempts to convince the Turkish government to transport the humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Israeli border, the Turkish leaders preferred to support the provocative flotilla. It seems the Turkish government was interested in ending the Gaza blockade and Hamas' international isolation. The Palestinian issue is a populist flag for the Islamist masses against the background of a continuing recession in Turkey and the recent rise of the secularist Republican People's Party, according to recent polls. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF: Flotilla Supplies Unnecessary - Ron Friedman
    All of the equipment on board the Gaza protest flotilla has been examined, and a majority has been loaded onto trucks headed to the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza. Col. Moshe Levi, commander of the IDF's Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration, said Tuesday that none of the equipment found on board the three cargo ships was in shortage in Gaza. "I can say with great assurance that none of the equipment on board is needed in Gaza. The equipment that we found is all equipment that we have regularly allowed into Gaza over the past year," Levi said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Five Islamic Jihad Terrorists Killed in Gaza Clashes - Yaakov Katz
    Two Islamic Jihad operatives who infiltrated into Israel after cutting through the security fence were killed during a shootout with IDF troops on Tuesday. Later, another three Islamic Jihad operatives were killed in an Israel Air Force strike in northern Gaza. The three were involved in firing rockets into Israel and a number of secondary explosions were recorded after the strike, indicating the presence of explosives. Two rockets had been fired at Israel earlier in the day. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Was Right - Leslie H. Gelb
    Israel had every right under international law to stop and board ships bound for the Gaza war zone. Under international law, blockades are quite legal. The U.S. and Britain were at war with Germany and Japan and blockaded them. I can't remember international lawyers saying those blockades were illegal - even though they took place on the high seas in international waters. Gazan leaders proclaim their goal is to destroy Israel, have tried for years to do so by missile attacks and terrorism, and Israel has every right to protect itself under international law, including by blockades in international waters.
        Where was all that international outrage and demand for explanations and retribution when the North Koreans sunk a South Korean ship? Where was it when the Gazans attacked Israel? Where, when Afghan men flogged their women for not wearing veils? Where, when Saudi Arabia funds terrorists around the world? This international outrage is highly selective, isn't it? The writer is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Daily Beast)
  • Why the Blockade Makes Sense for Israel - David Makovsky
    The story of the flotilla crisis begins from the time Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. Israelis were told that if they stopped occupying foreign land, they would be more secure. Between their withdrawal and the Gaza war of December 2008, however, Israeli citizens absorbed thousands of rockets aimed at their homes. Mothers had 45 seconds to hear a siren, gather their kids, and pray they would make it to a shelter. There was never a single UN Security Council session to discuss those attacks. That's why Israel insisted on a naval blockade of Gaza: It was the only way to curb the Palestinian rocket attacks on its people.
        While much has been made of the fact that Israel does not talk to Hamas (both Jerusalem and Washington deem it a terrorist organization), it is also true that Hamas has no interest in talking to Israel. Hamas does not recognize Israel of any size. The writer directs the project on the Middle East peace process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • The Gaza Flotilla and U.S.-Israel Relations - Matthew Levitt, David Makovsky, and Jeffrey White
    The Obama administration's efforts during the past couple of months to reach out to the Netanyahu government were derided by many as a "charm offensive" or public relations move. Yet there is nothing like a crisis to put the U.S.-Israel relationship to a genuine test. The fact is the administration did not rush to judgment on the flotilla tragedy, seeing it as a security-related issue. A White House statement made clear that the U.S. would not jump on a bandwagon condemning Israel, and a subsequent State Department release made clear that Israel - not the international community - needed to launch an investigation. The statements by the Obama administration fell short of what was wanted by Turkey and Arab states. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Israel's War Is the West's Too - Nile Gardiner
    Those who condemn Israel's use of "disproportionate force" would do well to remember that her foes are our deadly opponents too. If Israel is defeated, the security of the West itself would be significantly undermined. There is no middle ground in this war - political leaders in the West must decide whose side they are on - the defenders of freedom in the Middle East or the forces of terrorism and tyranny that threaten them. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Knives, Batons and Attempted Lynchings. Don't You Just Love "Peace Activists"? - Douglas Murray
    The reaction to this incident demonstrates once again that many people in Britain just cannot see that Israel's enemies are our enemies. I do wish they'd listen to the Egyptian Yemen-based cleric Wagdi Ghoneim. On Al-Jazeera he explained: "Hamas is fighting America, Europe and all the crusader West." Exactly. Which is why we should be thankful to Israel for fighting for all of us. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Freedom Flotilla Fraud - Editorial
    The main lesson learned from the incident on the ship Mavi Marmara is: Don't bring a paintball gun to a knife fight. The initial frenzy of denunciations of the operation in which nine people died is fading in the cold light of facts. The "peace activists" on board were armed and looking for a fight. Pundits who reflexively denounced Israel for "disproportionate force" were blaming the wrong side. Had the terrorist sympathizers on the ship not incited the violence, no one would have been killed. There were no casualties on other ships in the flotilla. (Washington Times)
  • Ankara Ambushes Israel at Sea - Ralph Peters
    The "aid convoy" incident was about Turkey's determination to position itself as the leading Muslim state in the Middle East. Three ships of that six-ship pro-terror convoy flew Turkish flags and were crowded with Turkish citizens. The Ankara government - led by Islamists these days - sponsored the "aid" operation in a move to position itself as the new champion of the Palestinians. And just last month, the Turks moved to provide the Iranian regime with cover for its nuclear program. (New York Post)
        See also The Islamist Government of Turkey Created This Crisis - Noah Pollak
    Israel and its supporters are doing a better-than-average job of quickly beating back the international lynch mob that loves nothing more than propagating lies about Israel. The key weapon in this fight for truth has been this particular video of the IDF commandos descending onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara and into a hornet's nest of murderous "peace activists." The Islamist government of Turkey masterfully created this crisis and is now denouncing Israel for it. (Commentary)
        See also Will Turkey End the Disputed Occupation of Northern Cyprus? - David Frum
    Turkey is a NATO ally, an applicant to the European Union. What is it doing allowing its nationals to smuggle cement that could build bunkers? Especially when those nationals belong to a group, the Turkish IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi), that Israel has designated a terrorist organization? The flotilla departed from Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. Turkey's occupation of half of Cyprus is deemed illegal by the EU and the UN. If the government of Turkey feels so strongly about ending disputed occupations, why does it not start with the disputed occupation it is operating itself? (CNN)
        See also When Friends Fall Out - Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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