Original Article Here.
By Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
A little over a year ago, a fleet of six ships sailed toward the Gaza Strip. The so-called "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" included members of the Free Gaza Movement and the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) — self described "peaceful activists" — who were challenging Israel's blockade of the region that guards against the infiltration of terrorists and weapons into Gaza.
When Israeli authorities, in full accordance with international law, requested to inspect the ships and deliver any humanitarian items on board through established checkpoints, the crew on the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, attacked the soldiers with metal pipes, knives, bats, and a gun. Seven IDF soldiers were injured as well. The "peaceful activists" were not so peaceful after all. In the process of defending themselves, IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers killed nine IHH members.
Flotilla organizers immediately dubbed the event the "Mavi Marmara massacre." International media covered the incident extensively, often portraying the activists as compassionate heroes and martyrs, and Israel as the cruel oppressor despite the fact that the IHH has known ties to terrorist groups like Hamas.
Not surprisingly, it's happening again. Members of the IHH are planning a fifteen-ship flotilla with 1,500 activists from 120 countries to set sail later this month. Though the organization is again claiming peaceful intentions, recent statements from IHH officials are ominous: "We have many surprises in store," one promised. Another, speaking more clearly, declared, ""Even if we sacrifice shahids (martyrs) for this cause, we will be on the side of justice."
Since the flotilla organizers claim only to be offering much-needed humanitarian aid, we might well ask: What is the scale of humanitarian need in Gaza? Last April, one Red Cross official in the region stated emphatically, "There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach." In the wake of the flotilla last year, Israel which has consistently allowed food, medicine, and other essentials into Gaza — even eased up on its blockade. In the past month, Egypt opened up the Rafah crossing, allowing people and products to flow more easily into Gaza.
The flotilla organizers' contention that Gaza's population is starving, held captive to "Israel's illegal stranglehold" on the region is, plainly and simply, a lie. The flotilla is nothing more than a provocation meant to challenge Israel's sovereignty, a cynical public relations ploy meant to sway world opinion against Israel. Indeed, the flotilla organizers have shrewdly calculated that any attempt by Israel to defend herself and protect her borders will be judged harshly in the media and world governing bodies like the U.N., and that the publicity generated by events such as Israel's wholly legitimate boarding of the Mavi Marmara will have negative effects that will resonate for months, even years to come.
Still, we must hope for the best as Israel faces yet another challenge to its security. The Bible says, "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment" (Proverbs 12:19). Let us pray that the true intentions of the flotilla organizers, and indeed of all those who actively attempt to delegitimize and compromise the security of the Jewish state, will be revealed. Let us pray for the safety of the IDF soldiers who put themselves in harm's way protecting the country they love. And let us pray for the day when God will bless the entire world with his most precious gift of shalom, peace.
With prayers for shalom, peace.