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June 3, 2010

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New Video from Ship Security Cameras: Flotilla Rioters Prepare to Attack IDF Soldiers (IDF Spokesperson)
    From the security cameras aboard the Mavi Marmara, rioters are seen preparing for confrontation with IDF soldiers.
    The rioters put on gas masks and arm themselves with rods, slingshots, broken bottles, metal objects, and water hoses.
    As the IDF soldiers approach the ship the rioters immediately attack the forces.

Three Slain Flotilla Fatalities "Dreamed of Martyrdom" - Aviel Magnezi (Ynet News)
    Media reports in Ankara on Wednesday revealed that three of the Turkish citizens killed during the raid declared their wish to become martyrs.
    In an interview with the Turkish newspaper Haber, the family members of Ali Khaider Benginin, 39, said Benginin told his family before leaving for the sail:
    "I am going to be a shahid (martyr); I dreamt I will become a shahid - I saw in a dream that I will be killed."
    Another Turkish citizen, Ali Akhbar Iritilmis, 55, was active in the IHH organization which led the naval convoy to Gaza. "He was devoted to this activity, and always dreamt about becoming a shahid," said a close friend.
    A Dutch report claimed a Dutch activist arrested by the IDF is suspected of being a senior Hamas operative.
    See also Video: Flotilla Passenger: "I Want to Be a Shahid (Martyr)" (YouTube)

Flotilla Aid Refused by Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh, Ron Friedman and Abe Selig (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas officials on Wednesday refused to allow into Gaza 21 truckloads of humanitarian aid that had been offloaded from the flotilla ships docked at Ashdod port.
    A senior official from the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Wednesday that the trucks were waiting to go into Gaza at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, pending approval from Hamas.
    "Hamas has refused to allow those trucks to go in, and if the aid is so urgent, my question is, why are they not allowing it into Gaza?"

Photos: Bullet-Proof Vests, Night Vision Goggles, and Rifle Scope Found on Flotilla Ship (IDF Blog)

Video: Daniel in the Lions' Den (Democast-YouTube)
    A Jewish high school student with a large Israeli flag faces down an anti-Israel demonstration outside the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles on Memorial Day.

Political Cartoons: How Does It Feel to Be Israeli, Today? (Muqata-Blogspot)

European Flotilla Passengers Attack Israeli Immigration Officials - Yael Branovsky (Ynet News)
    Female European activists from the flotilla to Gaza attacked Israeli Immigration Authority officers escorting them to the airport for deportation, the Interior Ministry reported Wednesday.
    One officer said: "They called us names and cursed Israel. When we arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport, two of them attacked me screaming, tried to push me, slap me, and scratch me."

A Shocking Story of Israeli Survival - Wesley Pruden (Washington Times)
    Israel is at war, fighting for its very existence, surrounded by hostile Islamic regimes, some more hostile than others. None of these hostile regimes will do anything to persuade, or compel, the Palestinians to give up the Islamist dream of destroying Israel in a second Holocaust.
    This is the reality in the Middle East, and everyone in Washington, London, and Paris knows it.
    Who could be shocked when the Israelis do what they think they must do to survive?
    The usual simplistic media tells the story of an "activist" armada of "peace" ships intended only to relieve the suffering of women and children. The "activist" account is bunk.
    Adequate supplies of food, medicine and other necessary goods are delivered regularly to Palestinians in Gaza - and by the Israelis.

Israel Had No Choice over Gaza Flotilla - Seth Freedman (Guardian-UK)
    Israel had given countless warnings to the activists not to proceed with their trip without first allowing the freight on their ships to be checked; Israel had repeatedly offered to allow the aid in as long as the activists handed it over to be inspected.
    There is not a country on earth that would not take similar steps to protect its people.
    Video footage clearly shows a premeditated attack on Israeli soldiers. There can be no doubt from the evidence that those attacking the Israeli forces were not the archetype of calm and measured peace activists.
    There is not an army on earth that would not allow its soldiers to respond with force to neutralize a life-threatening attack on their fellow troops.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Biden Backs Israel's Right to Stop Gaza-Bound Ships - Ross Colvin
    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday backed Israel's right to board ships bound for Gaza to prevent weapons smuggling. "Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest," Biden said in an interview on PBS's "Charlie Rose" show. "They (Israel) have said, 'Here you go. You're in the Mediterranean. This ship - if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we'll get the stuff into Gaza," Biden said. "What's the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza?" he asked. "It's legitimate for Israel to say, 'I don't know what's on that ship. These guys are dropping 3,000 rockets on my people,'" he said, referring to Hamas, the Islamist movement which rejects interim peace terms with Israel and has regularly fired rockets into the Jewish state. (Reuters)
        See also Israeli Raid May Not Change U.S. Policies - Barry Schweid
    Amid the uproar over Israel's raid on the flotilla bringing aid to Gaza, it's important to note what is not happening. The United States, unlike most of the world, is not chastising Israel. On Tuesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs did not question Israel's motives in trying to enforce its 3-year-old blockade of Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization. The aim, he pointed out at a White House briefing, is to keep weapons out of the territory. Gibbs said the U.S. is "working to improve the humanitarian conditions" in Gaza. At the same time, he stressed the administration was "greatly supportive" of Israel's security and "that's not going to change." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also did not call for an end to the blockade. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Israel Rejects International Investigation of Flotilla Raid - Amy Teibel
    Israel has rejected calls for an international investigation of its raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. Israel says the commandos used force only after activists on board a Turkish flagship attacked them. An official in the prime minister's office said Thursday there is "no case in recent history" where a democratic country's army involved in the deaths of civilians in an overseas operation has been subjected to an international investigation. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: We Will Never Apologize for Defending Ourselves - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Will the U.S. Stand By Its Commitment to Israel's Security? - Sean Hannity
    From an interview Tuesday with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.):
    Hannity: Israel's hit with thousands of rockets. Israel decides to put up a blockade so they can't send reinforcing weapons to the people that are firing rockets at hospitals and pizza parlors and neighborhoods and schools. Israel has a right to self-defense. Israel warns this vessel not to go in. They've allowed humanitarian aid in. Israel protects itself, and Israel gets worldwide condemnation. I'm trying to sort out the logic here.
    McCain: Well, I think that there is a significant pro-Palestinian sentiment in Europe, particularly amongst President Sarkozy and others and an anti-Israel stance by some of these countries. I don't know all motives, but some had to do with economic ties to some of these countries. In addition to what you just said, let me remind you that this Turkish humanitarian relief organization has ties to radical organizations.
    Hannity: Senator, more importantly, I'm concerned about the world's reaction. Here we have 200 countries condemning Israel. But yet, the United Nations still has failed to condemn North Korea for sinking a South Korean ship. (Fox News)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israeli Supreme Court Backs Flotilla Action - Aviad Glickman
    Israel's Supreme Court Thursday rejected suits filed this week against the flotilla raid and defended the IDF action. Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish ruled that during the takeover of the Marmara, "the soldiers encountered a harsh and violent response on the part of the flotilla participants on the ship. The soldiers were attacked with knives, clubs, and metal rods. Attempts were made to snatch their personal weapons and to violently injure them. One of the soldiers was even dropped over the side of the ship....The soldiers were forced to respond in order to defend their lives."
        Beinish also defended Israel's decision to block the ship's entry to Gaza: "In light of Hamas' control of Gaza, Israel has taken various steps meant to prevent direct access to Gaza, including the imposition of a naval blockade on Gaza, which, according to the State's declaration, is meant to block the infiltration of weapons and ammunition into Hamas ranks which have carried out shooting and terrorist attacks in Israeli territory for years with the goal of harming civilians."  (Ynet News)
  • Interception of the Gaza Flotilla - Legal Aspects
    According to the Laws of Armed Conflict, a state party to an armed conflict has the right to establish a naval blockade on its enemy's coast for security reasons. The power to impose a naval blockade is well established under customary international law.
        Passage of a vessel through a blockaded area or entrance into it without special entry or exit authorization from the State imposing the blockade is considered a breach of the blockade. Moreover, the State imposing the blockade may capture a vessel even prior to its entering the blockaded area. Capture of a vessel attempting to breach a naval blockade can be done in international waters, before entrance to the blockaded area. (IDF Military Advocate General)
  • British Col. Kemp: "Don't Submit to Outside Probe of Raid" - Ilan Evyatar and Yaakov Katz
    Israel should not agree to an independent international inquiry of the raid on the Gaza flotilla, Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp, the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan, told the Jerusalem Post Wednesday. "Israel has a democratically elected government and like every other democratically elected government in the world, Israel should carry out its own investigation....I don't think it should be subjected to an independent inquiry any more than other Western countries are."
        "Look at what appears to have been a very serious military error made by the German army in northern Afghanistan last year when something like 50-150 civilians were killed in an air strike....Where were the calls for an independent inquiry about that? Why is it that Israel is subjected to that kind of call when other democratic countries aren't?"
        Kemp is in Israel for a conference organized by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on "Israel's Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace," where he warned against allowing NATO to deploy in the West Bank. Kemp worked closely with NATO in Afghanistan, but said some NATO forces operate under major restrictions. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • An Assault, Cloaked in Peace - Michael B. Oren
    There are several curious aspects Israeli authorities are now investigating. About 100 of those detained were carrying immense sums in their pockets - nearly a million euros in total. Israel discovered spent bullet cartridges on the Mavi Marmara of a caliber not used by the Israeli commandos, some of whom suffered gunshot wounds. Also found on the boat were propaganda clips showing passengers "injured" by Israeli forces; these videos, however, were filmed during daylight, hours before the nighttime operation occurred. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the U.S. (New York Times)
  • A Botched Raid, a Vital Embargo - Daniel Gordis
    Israelis are resigned to the fact that reason will not shake the world's blatant double standard. Our blockade of Gaza is "criminal"; yet nobody mentions that Egypt has had a blockade of Gaza in place since 2007, and has never hesitated to use lethal force against those trying to break it.
        Israel's geographic vulnerability means that we do not have the luxury of caving in to the world's condemnation. We will have to gird ourselves for the long, dangerous and lonely road ahead, buoyed by hope that what ultimately prevails will be not what is momentarily popular, but rather what is just. The writer is a vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (New York Times)
  • In the Great Flotilla Debate, the Facts Are on Israel's Side - Marty Peretz
    The ever-more-Islamist government in Istanbul seems to have volunteered itself as a front for jihadism everywhere, most especially in dealing with Iran and its nuclear ambitions. There is hardly a Muslim cause that the Erdogan regime in Ankara has not taken to heart and under its belt. (Recall that Turkey kept U.S. forces from traversing Turkish soil in 2003.)
        Turkey was also once an important ally of Israel, which gave it a non-Arab friend in a sea of Arabism. The Israelis will be sad to lose this friend, but, in fact, they have lost it already.
        The law is on Israel's side. Ethics and history are on Israel's side. Those who are on the side of Hamas are actually enemies of civilization. (New Republic)
  • Israel and the Flotilla - Editorial
    The more we learn about this incident, the more it looks like a setup designed to provoke or embarrass Israel. Video shows the Israeli commandos were surrounded and attacked as they reached the ship's deck. Pardon us if we don't join the condemnation. Israel has a right to defend itself and a keen interest in preventing arms from reaching Gaza. There's a nasty neighbor in control of that territory, just a short-range rocket away. (Chicago Tribune)
        See also Israel Was Right to Stop Gaza Flotilla - Editorial
    Once again, Israel has been placed in the preposterous position of having to defend itself for defending itself. For that it should never have to apologize. The maritime blockade was imposed by Israel because it has repeatedly been attacked by Hamas from Gaza with rockets and other weapons smuggled in by sea. The blockade is supported by Egypt and has the de facto recognition of virtually every country in the world. It is a legitimate maneuver under international law and fully justified as an effective counter-measure to stop Hamas' aggression. (Miami Herald)
  • Joining the Jackals - Elliott Abrams
    This flotilla was an act of solidarity and support for terrorism. Had the Israeli commandos not fired to save themselves, this would have been Israel's very own "Blackhawk Down" incident. Israelis understand that no one is going to investigate Turkey and its role, nor investigate the pro-terror groups on board those ships - not if the U.S. fails to insist on it. They realize that it is now open season on Israel in Europe and at the UN. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Weekly Standard)
  • Breaking the Gaza Blockade Dooms Peace Efforts - Jonathan Tobin
    Lifting the Gaza blockade would be the final step toward establishing the sovereignty of the Hamas regime in Gaza. After all, the blockade was established by Israel and Egypt with the support of the West, not as an act of "collective punishment," but rather in a targeted effort to bring down an illegal and violent radical Islamist terror regime that had seized a foothold on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.
        Granting Hamas such a victory is a blow to Israel, but it is a worse blow to the Palestinians. The end of the blockade will strengthen Hamas and make it all the more likely that they will eventually be able to extend their rule to the West Bank. Giving Hamas such a victory means an end to the peace process. (Commentary)
  • Turkey: America's New Rival in the Middle East - Steven A. Cook
    For the first time in its history, Ankara has chosen sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, demanding that Israel take steps to ease the blockade of Gaza or risk unspecified "consequences." Well before the recent crisis, the Turks had positioned themselves as thinly veiled advocates for Hamas, which has long been on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations. In public statements, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has compared Turkey's Islamists and Hamas. Implicit in these declarations is a parallel to Erdogan's own Justice and Development Party, whose predecessors were repeatedly banned from politics.
        The stark reality is that while Turkey and the U.S. are not enemies in the Middle East, they are fast becoming competitors. The Turks are willing to bend the regional rules of the game to serve Ankara's own interests. If the resulting policies serve U.S. goals at the same time, good. If not, so be it. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Does Gaza Signal Turkey's Defection? - Greg Sheridan (The Australian)
        See also Erdogan and the Decline of the Turks - Robert L. Pollock (Wall Street Journal)
  • Judging Israel - Michael Sean Winters
    Imagine if the U.S. government knew that a group of sympathizers with al-Qaeda were delivering supplies to an al-Qaeda stronghold in Afghanistan. Any commander who permitted the supplies through would be court-martialed. Make no mistake about it, the difference between the Hamas thugs who rule in Gaza and the al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan is a difference of degree, not of kind. In their struggle against Hamas, Israel's cause is the cause of justice and human rights. (National Catholic Reporter)
  • Observations:

    We Will Never Apologize for Defending Ourselves - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Wednesday in a televised address:

    • Last year, Israel acted to stop Hamas from firing thousands of rockets into Israel's towns and cities. Hamas was firing on our civilians while hiding behind civilians. And Israel went to unprecedented lengths to avoid Palestinian civilian casualties. Yet it was Israel, and not Hamas, that was accused by the UN of war crimes. Now regrettably, the same thing appears to be happening.
    • Hamas is smuggling thousands of Iranian rockets, missiles and other weaponry - smuggling it into Gaza in order to fire on Israel's cities....Under international law, and under common sense and common decency, Israel has every right to interdict this weaponry and to inspect the ships that might be transporting them.
    • This is not a theoretical challenge or a theoretical threat. We have already interdicted vessels bound for Hizbullah, and for Hamas from Iran, containing hundreds of tons of weapons....Israel simply cannot permit the free flow of weapons and war materials to Hamas from the sea.
    • Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem....The international community cannot afford an Iranian port in the Mediterranean.
    • Here's our policy. It's very simple: Humanitarian and other goods can go in and weapons and war materiel cannot.
    • We will never apologize for defending ourselves. Israel has every right to prevent deadly weapons from entering into hostile territory. And Israeli soldiers have every right to defend their lives and their country....The Jewish state has a right to defend itself just like any other state.

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