IDF General Staff Operations Commander Col. Itzik Turjeman told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that two additional ships of the militant left flotilla are on their way to Gaza. He said they will be stopped as well, hinting that electronic means, or others, might be used.
Asked why the S.S. Marmaris was not physically stopped by the Navy without risking helicopter-borne soldiers rappelling down into a lynch mob, Turjeman said that the Marmaris is too large and heavy to have been physically blocked by navy ships.
MK Tzachi HaNegbi (Kadima), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, opened the session with these
“After Operation Cast Lead, the government decided to impose a maritime blockade on Gaza [in accordance with international law governing parties in a state of armed conflict – ed.], and that all cargo headed for Gaza would be checked first in the Ashdod port… This issue is a matter of total consensus in Israel, and the reason is the sense of injustice that we all feel, the cynicism and hypocrisy that typify the attack on the State of Israel, and the sense we all have that the IDF’s operation yesterday was logical and ethical. We left Gaza five years ago, yet for years we have been attacked from Gaza, and our soldier Gilad Shalit is still being held in a dark dungeon in Gaza. We therefore feel that we have the right to act in the way we did.”
HaNegbi added that many questions remain open in terms of the operation, the intelligence that preceded it, and the PR efforts after it, “and we will insist on investigating these matters and receiving answers.”
Several terror activists wounded on the Marmaris ship early Tuesday morning are hospitalized in several hospitals throughout Israel. Each of them is guarded by a military policeman, ensuring that he not try to escape or give media interviews.
Dozens of others who were arrested after being taken off the ships are being questioned. Some are being sent home, among them an American citizen. Three Spaniards who received expulsion orders refused to sign them and leave and are being held at a detention center.
Among those removed from the ships is Sheikh Ra'ad Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the extremist Islamic Movement in Israel. He was originally thought to have been injured on the boat, leading to Israeli-Arab rioting and much media speculation, but he is now known to be safe and sound.
Arab MK Hanin Zouabi (Balad), a rookie female MK from Nazareth, was on board the ship as well, but was released straight home because of her parliamentary immunity - infuriating some Knesset Members. MK Aryeh Bibi (Kadima) said, “Our democracy has lost its direction. We’ve reached the point where Arab citizens and MKs do whatever they wish. Zouabi’s parliamentary immunity must be removed and she should be arrested. I’d like to see her try similar protests in Arab countries… let her join the Hamas regime in Gaza.”
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said, “Zouabi and her Hamas friends boarded this flotilla as shahids [martyrs] who said that they knew that they might die in the course of harming IDF soldiers. Instead of making peace, Zouabi started war on board the ship. Terror activists like her must not be permitted to return to the Knesset.” Zouabi was recorded shouting for help in English and Hebrew when the IDF boarded the ship on which she sailed.