Browsing Posts tagged gaza

Following the incident off the coast of Gaza on May 31st, specifically the IDF’s actions after boarding the Mavi Marmara, Israel has been accused of wrongdoing and breaking international law. Israel has always believed that exposing the truth is in their best interest as it has nothing to hide. The old adage “the truth will set you free” was the impetus for the creation of the Turkel Commission, an independent, nongovernmental panel led by former Supreme Court Judge Jacob Turkel, with foreign observers to remove any possible bias.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu delivered a statement on Monday before the Turkel Commission, explaining the change in Israel’s policy towards the Gaza Strip and what really transpired aboard the Mavi Marmara, highlighting all actors involved.

Said Netanyahu, “Our soldiers faced a very real danger to their lives from brutal attacks, and acted in self-defense.  We made tremendous efforts to prevent injuries, but the IDF soldiers have the right to defend themselves. ”

He went on to explain “how dangerous an open sea lane to Gaza is for the security of the State of Israel. On one ship, the Karin A, Iran tried to send dozens of tons of weapons to Gaza. On another ship, the Francop, Iran tried to send Hezbollah hundreds of tons of weapons, approximately two-thirds of the total ammunition fired at Israel during the Second Lebanon War”

To read the Prime Minister’s full address to the Turkel Commission, click here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Israel has agreed to participate in the official UN investigation into the May 31 events regarding the flotilla. This will be in addition to the Independent Public Commission set up in Israel with foreign participation.

Explaining its position regarding Israel’s collaboration with this UN committee, Prime Minister Netanyahu said “Israel has nothing to hide.  The opposite is true.  It is in the national interest of the State of Israel to ensure that the factual truth of the overall flotilla events comes to light throughout the world and this is exactly the principle that we are advancing.”

Despite launching its own internal investigation led by nongovernmental officials and foreign observers, calls were made amongst the international community for a United Nations-led inquiry.

The four-member panel will include a Turkish representative along with an Israeli representative. The panel will be chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer as well as Colombian President Alvaro Uribe as vice chairman. They are slated to finish their first progress report by mid-September.

Ban Ki-moon thanked the government of Israel “for their spirit of compromise and forward-looking cooperation” which resulted in what he called “an unprecedented development.”

“I hope that today’s agreement will impact positively on the relationship between Turkey and Israel as well as the overall situation in the Middle East,” he added.

Last week at the Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Andrew Shapiro, the United States’ Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs spoke on the Israeli-American security cooperation. According to Shapiro, “[America's] security relationship with Israel is broader, deeper and more intense than ever before.”

Mr. Shapiro outlined the four pillars in which the United States ensures Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME). “Israel’s QME is its ability to counter and defeat credible military threats from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actor, while sustaining minimal damages or casualties. The Obama Administration has demonstrated its commitment to Israel’s QME by not only sustaining and building upon practices established by prior administrations, but also undertaking new initiatives to make our security relationship more intimate than ever before,” said Shapiro. continue reading…

The following statement has been signed by Jose Maria Aznar, David Trimble, John R. Bolton, Alejandro Toledo, Marcello Pera, Andrew Roberts, Fiamma Nirenstein, George Weigel, Robert F. Agostinelli and Carlos Bustelo:

Israel is a Western democracy and a normal country. Nonetheless, Israel has faced abnormal circumstances since its inception. In fact, Israel is the only Western democracy whose existence has been questioned by force, and whose legitimacy is still being questioned independently of its actions. continue reading…

In a small Jerusalem café, I sat with Noam Shalit and tried to discuss his son, Gilad. I say tried because each time Noam, a soft-spoken, bespectacled man, began a sentence, the owner of the café rushed over with complimentary plates of humus, salads and desserts. Passersby, glimpsing Noam through the window, burst inside to embrace him. “We are with you,” they cried. “We will get our Gilad home.”

That our is the key to understanding the devotion that Israelis feel for Gilad Shalit. The Israel Defense Forces is a citizens’ army in which most young men serve for a minimum of three years, followed by several decades of reserve duty. Young women serve for at least two. Our soldiers are literally our parents, our siblings, our children. Israel is also a small country with few if any degrees of separation between families. Even those who have never met the Shalits know someone who has. And all of us have loved ones—a brother, a son—who could suffer the same ordeal that Gilad began four years ago today. continue reading…

Israel’s security cabinet has voted to “liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza… expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision” and “continue existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war material.”

Even before these measures are to be put in place, on Tuesday, Israel allowed in 5,355 tons of goods into Gaza. No border crossings were closed. In addition to the list below of goods which entered Gaza on June 15th, dozens of international organization staff members crossed into and out of Israel through the Erez crossing. continue reading…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Israel is not above the law and not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. Israel’s blockade of Gaza, together with Egypt, it should be recalled (though Egypt is never condemned in this regard), is probably not the wisest policy ever implemented by Israel. After the international outcry over the flotilla to Gaza that was poorly handled by the Israelis, and with tragic consequences, it is high time this policy was reviewed.

The issue, however, is not this or some other specific Israeli policy, but Israel-bashing, or the prejudicial way in which Israel is usually treated by the international community and the world media. Prejudice is recognised by its three constituent practices: it singles out the subject; it then applies a double standard; and, of course, the subject is always guilty. Israel is indeed singled out for special treatment and the double standard is also reflected in a specific vocabulary that is applied only to Israel. continue reading…

Airport security makes all travelers put their bags through the X-ray machines, remove their laptops from their cases and walk through the metal detectors. It doesn’t matter if you’re a diplomat, a nun or a peace activist.

So imagine being an airport-security worker faced with a man who refuses to be searched. He explains that he means no harm and is simply bringing gifts to his loved ones. Would you just let him through? What if he then assaults you or your staff, runs to his terminal and tries to board the plane. Would you let him? After all, he’s only bringing gifts.

From the time Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 until June 2007, the situation there improved. European inspectors and the Fatah governors of the Palestinian Authority worked together to inspect goods coming into Gaza. But that cooperation didn’t fit with Hamas’ objective of working to destroy Israel and build an Islamic theocracy in its place. Hamas violently took over Gaza, expelled the Europeans and kicked out or killed Fatah members. The thugs also explicitly announced that they planned to bring more weapons into Gaza to continue their attacks on Israel. continue reading…

The most recent ship carrying supplies to Gaza docked at the port of Ashdod on Saturday, bringing the total number of aid-carrying vessels to seven in the last week. Israel is delivering the goods aboard the ships using the same channels which 100 trucks full of aid enter Gaza daily.

Due to the fact that the thousands of tons of aid, including cement, must first be offloaded onto trucks from the boats, not all of the aid has been delivered yet. This process, which includes screening goods for weapons, takes time.  The maximum capacity for a truck is roughly 25 tons, so while only 45 trucks have been prepped and loaded, it is still a great amount of aid.

Unfortunately, Hamas is currently refusing entry to trucks which are waiting at the Kerem Shalom border crossing. As Hamas has a history of hijacking aid, it is vital that Israel is assured that construction materials are going to be used for peaceful, civilian purposes. To that end, we are working with the humanitarian organizations in Gaza that can insure that all cement, construction materials, and other aid will go to humanitarian projects.

The rumors that Israel is not letting in cement are categorically false. Our goal is to make sure the aid is distributed to the people. While distribution would normally be the role of the government, the “government” of Gaza is a terrorist organization whose declared mission is the destruction of the State of Israel. While we will not let Hamas build bunkers and military sites, we will also not allow the people of Gaza to go without adequate supplies. With our partners in the international community, we will make sure that the goods are distributed to the people of Gaza.

We are working as hard as we can to offload all supplies and send them to Gaza. Please stay tuned for future updates.

The following statement was delivered by Yossi Gal, Israel’s director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“I want to once again deliver a message that has been delivered in both public and private channels to the Rachel Corie ship heading toward Gaza:

We have no desire for a confrontation. We have no desire to board the ship. If the ship decides to sail the port of Ashdod, then we will ensure its safe arrival and will not  board it. Israel is prepared to receive the ship and to offload its contents. After an inspection to ensure that no weapons and war materials are on board, we are prepared to deliver all of the goods to Gaza. Representative of the people on board and relevant NGOs are welcome to accompany the goods to the crossings. We will work with the UN and international organizations to ensure that all the goods are used for the benefit of the people of Gaza.”

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