Gaza flotilla activists ignore Israel's need for self-defense
By Amos N. Guiora, MCTSelf-defense against threats to national security and individual citizens is a core right and duty of all nation-states. No one seriously disagrees. And yet this week, the Mediterranean Sea will once again be the site of a dangerous attack on this basic right.
July 6, 2011, 11:14 am TWN
Activists from around the world, seeking to draw attention to the plight of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, plan to launch a flotilla of ships from Greece to challenge Israel's high-seas Gaza blockade. Drawing attention to the Palestinian cause is legitimate, indeed important. And yet Israel's blockade is equally legitimate and important; it represents the essence of the nation-state's right to self-defense.
The flotilla organizers and participants have publicly emphasized that they will carry no arms and have no hostile intentions; they are on a humanitarian mission. Sound familiar? Similar promises were made in 2010 about a peace-loving flotilla sailing from Turkey. Those promises were quickly shattered.
The loss of life in last year's flotilla was tragic; it was also largely avoidable. After all, had flotilla organizers agreed to Israel's offer to land their cargo at the Israeli port of Ashdod, the goods would have been safely transferred to Gaza: Humanitarian mission accomplished.
But that wasn't the point. The point was a provocation of Israel, with a requisite photo-op. The needs of the civilian population in the Gaza Strip were a footnote. This week's flotilla, at least, is open about its motives. In a letter to U.S. President Obama, the American contingent acknowledged that its boat would carry “no goods of any kind for delivery in Gaza.”
The organizers make the claim that Israel's blockade violates international law. That's a catchy accusation, but it's wrong in law and in fact.