Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, Head of the Foreign Press Division in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, addressed in a YouTube video on Sunday the planned “Freedom Flotilla 2”, which will be attempting to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.
“The IDF is responsible for defending the citizens of Israel, and will not compromise its ability to ensure that Israel’s borders are secure and defensible from terrorist networks and their state sponsors, who seek the destruction of Israel by targeting its civilians,” said Lt. Col. Leibovich.
“That is why,” she continued, “we must reserve the right to be able to inspect ships which carry cargo of an unknown nature to an area governed by Hamas, a terror organization which does not recognize the State of Israel, proclaims in its charter its desire to destroy Israel, and regularly commits acts of terror against Israeli civilians.”
Lt. Col. Leibovich brought previous examples of seemingly peaceful ships having been used to smuggle weapons intended for use by Hamas into the Gaza Strip. The most recent example of this was the Victoria ship which was caught by the IDF in March.
“It is no wonder, then, that Israel needs to thoroughly examine all vessels determined to arrive in the Gaza Strip,” she said. “It is also crucial to question who stands behind these so-called charitable organizations intent on undermining Israel’s legitimacy to defend itself by sea, air, or land.”
She added that the IDF is willing to transfer to Gaza any humanitarian aid found on the ships, but only through land crossings and following a thorough inspection. She noted that the IDF and the Ministry of Defense have dedicated enormous efforts to transfer aid to Gaza. This includes medical supplies and building materials for schools and homes.
“We will continue these efforts and will fulfill our commitment to the people of Israel so that they may live in safety and security,” said Lt. Col. Leibovich.
Her comments come amid reports on Saturday that the first of the flotilla ships have set sail from France. The two vessels reportedly left the port in Corsica as they make their way to the coastal waters of Greece, where they are scheduled to meet up with the rest of the participants in the flotilla.
On Wednesday, the United States warned its citizens against participating in the flotilla, saying the Gaza coast is “dangerous and volatile” and warning that U.S. citizens who take part in the flotilla would risk “injury, death, arrest, and deportation.”