(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
The Cabinet decided that the imposition of restrictions on the entry of ships into Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization, is an outstanding act of self-defense against Hamas’s continued aggression against Israeli citizens and communities; so too the IDF action against the violent provocation on the high seas.
The Cabinet regrets the fact that there were fatalities during the event but lays full responsibility on those elements that took violent action which tangibly endangered the lives of IDF soldiers.
The Cabinet expresses its full appreciation for the IDF and its commanders who acted out of self-defense and sends wishes for a quick recovery to our wounded soldiers. Israel will continue to defend its citizens from the Hamas terrorist base. The security of our communities and our citizens outweighs all other considerations.
The Cabinet will reconvene tomorrow to continue its discussion of the issue.
Israel will act to immediately expel all the detainees according to the procedures set by law
Following the discussion of the security and diplomatic cabinet today, the Prime Minister consulted with the Defense Minister, Justice Minister, and Interior Minister on the question of expelling the detainees from the flotilla to Gaza.
It was agreed that the detainees would be expelled immediately – according to the procedures set by law. The Interior Minister announced that the expulsion will begin this evening, and the assessment is that it can be completed in approximately 48 hours.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks at the Security Cabinet meeting:
"This was no peace flotilla but a violent and planned force. We have film and pictures that underscore what our soldiers faced and the last thing that could possibly be said about that ship is that it was a peace ship. Today, I visited the wounded fighters at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer and I heard from them waiting for them on the deck of the ship were terrorists armed with cold weapons such as axes, knives, clubs, bars and the like, and it is likely that they also snatched weapons. Our soldiers acted against them with equanimity and heroism. We regret the loss of life – but give full backing to the soldiers and to the IDF regarding this action."
Prime Minister Netanyahu explained why it is necessary to check ships transporting equipment and people to Gaza:
"We know from the experience of Operation Cast Lead, and from before it, that war materiel which enters Gaza is directed against our citizens. In Gaza is an Iranian-sponsored terrorist state; therefore, we try to prevent the entry of war materiel into Gaza, whether by land, sea or air. True, they smuggle war materiel through tunnels but smuggling via the sea is completely different, quantitatively. On the Francop alone, we captured approximately 200 tons of war materiel smuggled from Iran to Hizbullah. Opening a sea route into Gaza would constitute a great danger to the security of our citizens. Therefore, we persist with a naval blockade and check the ships. There is no possibility of maintaining this policy without checking ships’ cargoes. True, there is international pressure and criticism of this policy but we must understand that it is vital in order to maintain Israel’s security and Israel’s right to defend itself."