After MK Basal Ghattas (Joint Arab List) sent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu several letters protesting the IDF's intention to prevent the Freedom Flotilla III, the Prime Minister is sending back letters to members of the flotilla. In his letter, Netanyahu says to flotilla members that they apparently “got lost."
“Welcome to Israel, but if it's freedom you have in mind, maybe you meant to sail to another destination not far from here – Syria. There, the government is murdering and slaughtering its citizens daily, with the support of Iran,” the letter says.
The letter lists the large amount of medical and other humanitarian aid Israel has shipped in recent months to Gaza. “If you are really interested in human rights, you would not sail to identify with a government that kills people without trial in Gaza, that tries to injure innocent civilians. Despite their attempts to hurt Israelis, we have been allowing over 800 trucks a day to enter Gaza, bringing in 1.6 million tons of goods. Those trucks contain about 500,000 more times worth of goods than the ships you have arrived in.”
The letter stresses that there is no blockade on Gaza, and that if the passengers want, they can send any humanitarian aid they wish via Israel. “With that we are not prepared to allow the entry of weapons material to terror groups, as has been done by sea in the past. These restrictions are in accordance with international law, and have been backed by a special United Nations panel.
In a message from the flotilla, Ghattas demanded that the IDF end its blockade of Gaza and allow ships associated with the flotilla to arrive in Gaza. In a letter to Netanyahu, Ghattas “hereby asks that the security forces be instructed to allow the ships to pass without damage, as this is a humanitarian voyage.”
The ships departed Greece over the weekend and are on their way to Gaza, while Israeli Navy ships tightened their blockade of the waters off Gaza. Israel has maintained the blockade since 2009, in order to prevent Hamas from smuggling large amounts of weapons for use against civilians. Ghattas announced last week that he was joining the new attempt by radical Hamas supporters to break the blockade. Some 70 Hamas supporters are said to be aboard the ships.
In his message, Ghattas said the ship he was on, the Marian, had about 20 passengers, “all of them on a humanitarian mission,” he wrote. “They are all peace activists, among them Moncef Marzouki, former president of Tunisia. Their only purpose is to protest the illegal blockade of Gaza.”
Continuing in Zouabi's footsteps
Another Arab MK, Hanin Zouabi, participated in the infamous 2010 flotilla attack, in which terrorists aboard the Mavi Marmara attempted to kill IDF soldiers. Zoabi has said she doesn't regret taking part in the flotilla, which attempted to illegally break the IDF's blockade on the terrorist organization Hamas in Gaza.
In the 2010 flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, which claimed to be providing "humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza," defied orders to turn around and dock at the Ashdod port. After it ignored repeated warnings to change course, the IDF boarded the vessel – only to be attacked by Islamist extremists on board wielding knives and metal bars. Nine Islamist terrorists were killed after attacking Israeli commandos who boarded the ship, and in 2013 an Israeli court rejected a petition by former MK Michael Ben-Ari and Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir to try Zouabi for sedition for taking part in the flotilla.
The wounded soldiers had no choice but to open fire, resulting in the deaths of ten of the IHH members on board.
After an investigation, Israeli authorities discovered the vessel to be carrying no humanitarian aid – in fact, no aid supplies at all.
Speaking earlier Sunday, MK Motti Yogev (Jewish Home) said he was convinced Israel will stop the anti-Israel 'Freedom Flotilla III' from approaching Gaza, he stated to Arutz Sheva on Sunday morning – through a two-pronged approach to Israel vis-a-vis Gaza. Just as important, he said was dealing with Ghattas. “His presence as part of the terror flotilla is negative, whether or not it is illegal – and it should be reviewed by the Attorney General [Yehuda Weinstein],” he said.