Gaza flotilla: Statement by PM Netanyahu

 

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

[Translated from Hebrew]
 
Last night a regrettable incident occurred, during which people were killed and others were injured. IDF soldiers who were compelled to defend their lives were also injured. This incident was the result of an intentional provocation of forces which support Iran and its terrorist enclave, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip. This enclave, Hamas, has fired thousands of missiles at the State of Israel, and it is amassing thousands more.

This is a clear case of self-defense. Israel cannot allow the free flow of weapons, rockets and missiles to the terrorist base of Hamas in Gaza. It’s a terrorist base supported by Iran; it’s already fired thousands of rockets at Israeli cities; it seeks to smuggle in thousands more, and this is why Israel must inspect the goods that come into Gaza. It’s also a clear case of self-defense because as our soldiers were inspecting these ships, they were attacked – they were almost lynched. They were attacked with clubs, with knives, perhaps with live gunfire, and they had to defend themselves – they were going to be killed. Israel will not allow its soldiers to be lynched and neither would any other self-respecting country.

Our policy is simple. We say: any goods, any humanitarian aid to Gaza, can enter. What we want to prevent is their ability to bring in war materiel – missiles, rockets, the means for constructing casings for missiles and rockets. This has been our policy and yesterday we told the flotilla – which was not a simple, innocent flotilla – to bring their goods into Ashdod. We told them that we would examine their cargo and allow those goods that could not be used as weapons or shielding materials for Hamas into Gaza. 

Five of the six ships accepted these terms without violence. Apparently, the sixth ship, the largest, which had on board hundreds of people, had a premeditated plan to harm IDF soldiers. When the first soldiers dropped down onto the deck of the ship, they were attacked by a violent mob and were compelled to defend their lives. That is when the unfortunate events took place.

We have a simple policy, which will continue. That policy is: we have no argument or fight with the population of Gaza. We are interested in allowing them to continue their regular routines. We want to prevent any humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but we are fighting the Hamas organization, which threatens the citizens of Israel and fires missiles at Israeli cities. It is our duty to defend the citizens of Israel, protect Israel’s cities and ensure the security of the State of Israel – and we will continue to do so.

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Statement following meeting with Canadian PM Stephen Harper (31 May 2010):

Gaza has become a base for Hamas terrorists backed by Iran, from which they fire thousands of rockets into Israel. They’re amassing thousands more rockets to fire at our cities, at our towns, at our children. Our policy is this: we try to let in all humanitarian goods into Gaza, all peaceful commodities – food, medicine and the like. What we want to prevent coming into Gaza are rockets, missiles, explosives and war materiel that could be used to attack our civilians.

This is an ongoing policy and it was the one that guided our action yesterday. We told the flotilla of ships, we said: "You can take all your cargo. Put it in our port of Ashdod. We’ll just ferret out if there are any war materiels and the rest will go through." We succeeded doing this peacefully with five of the six ships. The sixth ship, the largest, which had hundreds of people on it not only did not cooperate in this effort, they deliberately attacked the first soldiers that came on the ship. They were mobbed; they were clubbed; they were beaten; they were stabbed and there was even a report of gunfire.

Our soldiers had to defend themselves, defend their lives or they would have been killed, and regrettably, in this exchange at least ten people died. We regret this loss of life. We regret any of the violence that was there. I would like to wish speedy recovery to the wounded, including four of our own soldiers.

Our policy was and will continue to be that we will let humanitarian aid, any kinds of goods that are meant for peace to the civilian population in Gaza. We have no quarrel with the people of Gaza. We do have a conflict with the terrorist regime of Hamas, supported by Iran. We want to maintain a situation were we prevent weapons and raw materials from coming into Gaza. That is our main task.