Previous flotilla (file)
Previous flotilla (file) IDF Spokesperson

Israel's embassy in France has formally complained to the French government, following an Arutz Sheva report which revealed Paris is funding at least one of the extremist organizations involved in coordinating the anti-Israel "Freedom Flotilla III" to Gaza.

The flotilla is attempting to breach the IDF's blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory, which the 70-odd anti-Israel activists taking part claim is "illegal." In 2011, however, the UN's Palmer Report ruled that the blockade was in fact an entirely legal means for Israel to prevent weapons and rocket-making equipment from being smuggled into Gaza.

Last week Arutz Sheva revealed that among the NGOs involved in the flotilla initiative is the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine, an umbrella organization for more than 40 anti-Israel groups that is very active in the so-called BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement against Israel. 

The report revealed that the Platform has received more than half a million Euros in funding from the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement or AFD), essentially France's equivalent of USAID, including a €225,000 grant in March 2014, spread out over three years.

This means that the French government is currently funding an extremist body that is openly working to break both Israeli and international law and initiate a confrontation with Israeli soldiers.

After repeated requests for response, an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman confirmed the Israeli embassy "has raised the issue in clear and strong terms with the French foreign ministry."

However, he refused to be drawn on the question of whether Israel would demand an end to French government funding to the Platform.

The revelations highlight once more how European government-funded NGOs are playing a leading role in international efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state, in the face of an inexplicable lack of action by Israeli government officials.

Indeed, numerous senior government officials refused to issue any comment on the report, in spite of their previously outspoken stances on the issue.

It comes as Israeli legislators are set to once again debate the so-called NGO Law, which seeks to curb such activities by extremist, foreign-funded NGOs - although critics say the current bill does not go far enough.

Earlier Monday morning, the Israeli navy intercepted the first vessel in the flotilla to attempt to run the blockade; the Swedish ship Marianne of Gothenburg.

The operation went smoothly and without incident; no injuries were reported.

The ship will now be towed to Ashdod Port where its contents will be inspected.