Israel acts in accordance with international law
Israel has faced much criticism for the past 62 years from many different groups, including the United Nations, the Arab League and from the worldwide intelligentsia. Israel is not perfect, and it makes mistakes, but one recent event triggered a great deal of unfair criticism: the Gaza flotilla incident.
When the terrorist organization Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a coup d'état, Israel enforced a blockade against Gaza, lest Hamas be supplied with weapons from the Mediterranean Sea. Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and Hamas has repeatedly attacked Israel with missiles and purposefully targeted civilians with homicide bombers. Israel has not only the legal right to blockade Gaza but also the moral obligation to protect its citizens.
To ensure there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel ships 15 tons of food, medical supplies and other necessities to Gaza each week. Before doing so, however, Israel reserves the right to inspect the goods, to check that they do not contain weapons.
Six ships attempted to break Israel's blockade of Gaza on May 31. Israel offered to have the ships docked in the nearby port city of Ashdod, where Israeli officials inspect aid packages and then send them to Gaza. However, the flotilla ships had no intention of docking in Ashdod, so Israeli naval commandos — armed with paintball guns and handguns — approached the flotilla and warned them to dock. The boats did not heed the calls by the Israelis, so the Israelis boarded the ships, and on five of the six ships, there were no serious injuries or violence. On the sixth ship — a Turkish ship, called the Mavi Marmara — the "peace activists" met the Israelis with brute force, attacking the Israelis with poles, chairs, knives and other weapons. The Israelis filmed this episode, and the video can be viewed on YouTube. After watching the video, it is clear that the commandos went onto the boat with no intention of killing anyone. Only after facing violence did the commandos begin firing their handguns, which led to the unfortunate deaths of nine "peace activists." A BBC documentary, "Death in the Med," that used first-hand accounts and video evidence to substantiate its analysis, concluded that Israeli commandos acted in self-defense.
Evidence has since been uncovered to incriminate the "peace activists." The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel's military found weapons and combat gear that "[included] knives, clubs, slingshots, bulletproof vests, gas masks and night vision goggles." Furthermore, the flotilla really had very little to do with bringing humanitarian aid. Rather, as one of its leaders, Greta Berlin, stated, "This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege." That is to say, their goals were militarily and politically oriented, not humanitarian. Furthermore, according to Daniel Ayalon, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, there were 75 "mercenaries" on board who had connections to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.
The rest of the world wasted little time in unjustly criticizing Israel. The United Nations condemned Israel's actions, and the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan called this incident an act of state-sponsored terrorism. No one wanted to stand up for Israel: the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and one that secures rights for women, gays and minorities.
Israel is clearly held to a different standard than the rest of the world. The majority of the world blames and criticizes Israel for defending itself against Hamas, while Egypt also enforces the blockade of Gaza. The world blames Israel, even as Iran is racing to build a nuclear weapon that will imperil peace throughout the world. The world criticizes Israel, even as Turkey occupies Cyprus and displaced its natives. The world blames Israel, even though Kuwait, not Israel, expelled more Palestinians than any other nation: 400,000 in March 1991.
Hamas is, we must remember, a terrorist organization that seeks to destroy the Jewish state in every conceivable way. Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and they back it up by lobbing hundreds of missiles at Israel. Naval blockades have been used throughout all of modern history to stop enemies from rearming. The Union blockaded the Confederacy during the Civil War, and the Allies blockaded the Central Powers during World War I. President John F. Kennedy blockaded Cuba, and Israel blockades Gaza. It is an unfortunate reality, but it is a fact of life. Israel acted in complete accordance with international law, and the criticisms it faces are entirely unjustified.
Noah Glyn is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in economics and history. He is also a fellow with the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.