Israel Peacefully Intercepts Gaza-Bound Boat

The Israeli Navy successfully intercepted a Gaza-bound boat, the Estelle, that was carrying minimal aid and a group of activists. The following explains Israel's position regarding this boat, the situation in Gaza and the legality of Israel's blockade:

Activists are attempting to break Israel’s legal naval blockade of Gaza with the Swedish-owned clipper Estelle. Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip after it was seized by the Iranian-backed terror group Hamas during a bloody coup in 2007.

Israel’s lawful naval blockade is designed to prevent weapons, rockets and explosives from reaching Hamas, which uses Gaza as a base for regular rocket and other terror attacks against Israel. On several occasions Israel has intercepted ships bringing arms to Gaza.

In September 2011, a United Nations report on a Turkish convoy to Gaza on May 31, 2010 was released. It found that Israel’s security blockade of Gaza is legal and appropriate but Israeli forces that tried to deter the flotilla from reaching Gaza used excessive force. The report, however, states that Israeli commandos that boarded the Mavi Marmara, one of the flotilla’s ships, faced organized and violent resistance.

Israel consistently urges flotilla participants to deliver any goods on board through established channels, such as the Ashdod port or Gaza-Israel border crossings. “The appropriate way to meet needs in Gaza was through legitimate crossings,” said U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Robert Serry in a briefing to the Security Council in September 2010.

The U.N. report found there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and all products intended for Gaza should be sent in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian Authority via the land crossings.

In April 2011, Mathilde de Riedmatten, deputy director of the Red Cross in Gaza, said that there is no necessity to break the Israeli security cordon because there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” said Riedmatten. “Israel has the legitimate right to protect the civilian population,” she added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement regarding theEstelleon Oct. 20: "Even the people who were on the ship know that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Their entire objective was to create a provocation and blacken Israel's name. If human rights were really important to these activists, they would sail to Syria. We will continue to take strong and determined action to defend our borders,"

In July 2010, Israel eased its blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza allowing in all goods other than those that can serve terrorist purposes. Up to 400 trucks enter Gaza daily.

The West Bank and Gaza’s economy (combined) grew approximately seven percent in 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund. Much of the progress is attributed to better security and improved cooperation between the PA and Israel.

Israel has increased cooperation between its government, the PA and international organizations to improve the standard of life of the civilian population in Gaza and the West Bank. These projects are in the areas of health, infrastructure in sewage, water and housing, and in education.

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