Netanyahu defends Gaza blockade, boarding of ships

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday defended the Gaza blockade and a raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Palestinian enclave that killed nine people and sparked a world outcry.

“Israel is the victim of an international hypocrisy attack,” he said amid mounting calls for the lifting of the blockade Israel imposes on the coastal strip, whose Hamas rulers are committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.

He insisted the blockade was key in preventing weapons from reaching the Gaza Strip, where the Islamist rulers use tunnels on the Egyptian border to smuggle in weapons.

We review the situation following the Israeli attack on a flotilla of ships trying to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip on Monday 31 May 2010. The botched raid, which killed nine activists, sparked a diplomatic crisis and set off protests around the world.

“Hamas continues to arm itself and Iran continues to transfer weapons to Hamas,” the premier said.

He also defended Monday’s naval commando raid on an activist flotilla that sought to deliver aid to Gaza.

“The idea was to break the sea blockade. Had it been, tens, hundreds of ships would come later, and in each boat hundreds of rockets, missiles could be brought,” he said.

“Our duty is to inspect every boat that goes to Gaza. If we don’t do this we would have an Iranian port in Gaza.”

He pointed out that it was only on one of the six ships that the soldiers encountered violence.

“This wasn’t a love ship, it was a hate boat,” he said in reference to the ferry Mavi Marmara, which belongs to a Turkish Islamic charity and which carried the vast majority of the 682 activists.

“This was not a peaceful operation, it was a terrorist operation.”—AFP

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