Israel Warns Foreign Media Participation in Gaza Flotilla Is Violation of International, Israel Law

Journalists have been warned that being in the Gaza flotilla would not constitute freedom of the
press but rather incitement to terrorism. The Red Cross has declared that there is no humanitarian crisis in
Gaza and that anyone trying to break the Gaza security blockade would be helping Hamas to smuggle
weapons into Gaza to be used against Israeli civilians.

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem, Israel ---- June 27, 2011 .... Oren Helman, Director of the Israel Government Press Office has told the Israel News Agency that foreign media participation in the Gaza Flotilla would be a serious violation of both international and Israel law.

"A flotilla of ships is due to arrive soon in the Middle East in order to try and enter the Gaza Strip," said Helman.

"This flotilla is a dangerous provocation that is being organized by Western and Islamic extremist elements to aid Hamas, which the world defines as an extremist Islamic terrorist organization. Those participating in the flotilla have declared that it is their intention to break the naval blockade that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip for security reasons, given Hamas's efforts to smuggle weaponry and terrorists into the Gaza Strip."

Helman adds: "The Gaza flotilla intends to knowingly violate the blockade that has been declared legally and is in accordance with all treaties and international law. The Government of Israel has instructed the IDF not to allow the flotilla to reach its goal."

"As the Director of the Government Press Office, I would like to make it clear to you and to the media that you represent, that participation in the flotilla is an intentional violation of Israel law and is liable to lead to participants being denied entry into the State of Israel for ten years, to the impoundment of their equipment and to additional sanctions."

"I implore you to avoid taking part in this provocative and dangerous event, the purpose of which is to undermine Israel's right to defend itself and to knowingly violate Israeli law. Please pass along the contents of this letter to your editorial boards around the world."

IHH head Bülent Yildirim recently announced that due to technical difficulties, the Mavi Marmara would not sail with the other ships in the upcoming flotilla to Gaza. The participation of the Turkish cargo ship was also canceled.

Apparently, the flotilla's organizers who do not belong to IHH are still planning to go ahead, although on a smaller scale than previously planned, with the participation of Western (American, Canadian, European and Australian) anti-Israeli networks. It is not known whether IHH activists will sail on the Western ships (which in our assessment are at full capacity) as announced by Bülent Yildirim, or whether the entire organization will not participate in the current flotilla. In any event, even if IHH activists do sail, their presence will be small and symbolic, as opposed to the central part they played in the previous flotilla.

Even if the flotilla does take place, there will be a significant difference between its original plan and final format. Since the previous flotilla, the organizers have been acting to dispatch an upgraded flotilla of 15 vessels whose flagship would be the Mavi Marmara. Their objective was to magnify the flotilla's propaganda effect and set a new high point in their anti-Israeli campaign, while making it difficult for Israel to respond to the challenge. In effect, there will be fewer ships than planned.

In addition, the flagship Mavi Marmara, which became a symbol and was supposed to carry a significant number of participants, will not sail. Moreover, during the political propaganda campaign which has been waged in recent months, the organizers faced a number of setbacks which eroded the legitimacy for flotilla as far as world opinion was concerned as reservations were expressed openly by the Secretary-General of the UN, the United States, the European Union and various Western countries.


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