IDF Evidence, US Stem Turkish-Led Diplomatic War Against Israel
IDF video documentation and United States diplomats have stemmed the anti-Israel tide in the United Nations – for the time being – a day after the flotilla clash on the high seas. The U.N. Security Council met in closed session until late Monday night after U.S. diplomats watered down a Turkish attempt to censure Israel.
Most of the 15 countries sitting on the Council expressed harsh criticism of Israel, but no joint statement was issued. Turkey is trying to use the universal anti-Israel mood to force an end to Israel's partial blockade on Gaza, imposed since Hamas gained control of the area un a military coup three years ago.
"It is clearer than ever that Israel's restrictions on access to Gaza must be lifted,” said British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant.
Foreign media and diplomats have begun to note the IDF videos of a brutal attack on Israeli Navy commandos as they descended on one of the ships after the crew and passengers refused requests to change course and sail to Ashdod instead of Hamas. Under the Oslo Accords and agreements with the Palestinian Authority, Israel maintains sovereignty over the international waters off the Gaza coast.
"Direct (aid) delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible under the circumstances," said U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the U.N. Alejandro Wolff. While European and Arab countries castigated Israel for the killing of nine Muslim extremists who attacked Navy commandos, Wolff stated, “We are working to ascertain the facts [and] we expect a credible and transparent investigation.”
Hamas has smuggled hundreds of tons of explosives, arms and ammunition, as well as terrorists, by land and sea, and Israel is determined to prevent further smuggling actions. Allowing boats to reach Gaza without inspection would give Hamas free passage to bring in advanced weapons, including long-range missiles.
Israel’s U.N. envoy Daniel Cameron stated Jerusalem’s position, backed up by IDF videos from a helicopter hovering over the flotilla, that “this flotilla was anything but a humanitarian mission. What kind of humanitarian activists demand to bypass the United Nations, the Red Cross, and other internationally recognized agencies? What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs and other weapons to attack soldiers who board a ship in accordance with international law?" he said.
Arab diplomats harped on Israel’s trying to inspect the ships in international waters, but legal experts have stated that Israel, like any other country, has the right to sail in international waters and stop foreign ships suspected of trying to reach its shores with suspicious cargo or people.
Yahya Mahmassani, representing the Arab bloc at the United Nations, said they want a total censure of Israel because the incident happened in international waters and because they want the partial blockade lifted. International media, which until recently have adopted the Arab claim that a "humanitarian crisis” exists in Gaza, have virtually ignored daily shipments of hundreds of tons of food, merchandise and supplies from Israel to Gaza.
Lebanon, currently the rotating president of the U.N. Security Council, and Turkey both led the condemnation of Israel at the Council session with such terms as “piracy,” “crime” and “a black day in the history of humanity.”
“I’m not sure any international lawyer would be able to defend such words” at this stage, said one senior Council diplomat, quoted by Benny Avni, writing in The New York Sun Tuesday morning.
The diplomat noted that after more than two months since an unprovoked torpedo attack on a South Korean ship, China and other Council members have prevented even a discussion of the incident, even though a probe has clearly established that North Korea attacked the boat, and even though a multinational investigation has credibly established North Korea’s role as aggressor.
Monday’s clash between Muslim militants and the Israeli Navy occurred on the Maרmara, one of the six ships in the flotilla. Most of the passengers on the other five vessels consisted largely of an assortment of international peace activists. The sixth ship included Muslim extremists, including northern Israel Islamic Movement leader Ra'ad Salah, who initially but incorrectly was reported as having suffered critical wounds in the clash.
After the Israeli commandos took control of the Maרmara and led it to the port of Ashdod, where the humanitarian aid was unloaded and shipped to Gaza, the IDF collected and photographed weapons that had been brought on board.
The extremists had stockpiled and used two dozen knives, metal pipes and clubs to beat the Navy commandos as they descended on the Mamara by rope from helicopters.