Witnesses reported Sunday morning that they had heard hate chants from those on board a flotilla of ships heading from Cyprus to Gaza. The ships bear hundreds of foreign activists who plan to challenge Israel's control of the sea off Gaza's coast.
The chants, which were recorded, included, “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, jaish Mohammed saya'ud.” The cry means, “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Mohammed is returning.” The reference is to the seventh century, when Mohammed, revered by Muslims as a prophet, led an army that slaughtered Jews in the town of Khaybar in what is now Saudi Arabia.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon condemned the chants. “The fact that participants on the flotilla would chant such things shows the true nature of some of the participants and its true motivation,” he said.
"This amply demonstrates that many are not against a particular policy of the Israeli government, but have very real and dangerous hatred for Jews and the Jewish state,” he added.
Israel is planning to intercept the boats before they reach Gaza and divert them to the port of Ashdod, where the goods they are carrying will be checked and transported to Gaza by land. The foreign activists will be deported to their home countries, officials say.
Israel has lawfully controlled traffic into and out of Gaza from the Negev and the Mediterranean sea since Hamas, a declared enemy of the Jewish state, gained control of the area after elections in 2007. Humanitarian goods are allowed into the region.
Egypt has closed its border with Gaza as well.
The flotilla to Gaza has encountered several setbacks, among them mechanical failures that caused two of the ships to slow to a stop on Sunday. The ships are scheduled to arrive on Monday.
Hamas is a terror organization which purposely targets Jewish civilians and which has also cruelly murdered many Arabs who supported rival factions or were suspected of collaborating with Israel. Its method of warfare involves provoking Israel into military action and hiding behind civilians in the hope that Israel will inadvertently strike them.