Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Gaza Strip (11)


Gaza Latest (25 June): Iranian Flotilla "Cancelled"; US Says Aid Ships "Irresponsible"; Europe Calls for End to Blockade

One of the organizers of an Iranian aid flotilla said Thursday that the event has been cancelled due to "Israeli threats". Nevertheless, Israel's Army Radio reported that a separate Iranian ship, carrying 60 Iranian activists, was being prepared to sail to Gaza via the Caspian Sea, which seems a rather unusual route.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement calling the aid flotillas to Gaza irresponsible:
Mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza by member states and groups that want to do so. Direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective, under the circumstances.

The Council of Europe's parliamentarians have called on Israel to end its siege of the Gaza Strip, describing Israel's recent ease of blockade as a "first step". A large majority in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said that goods must be delivered to Gaza both by sea and land, "without prejudice to [Israel's] security", so that Palestinians can enjoy "normal living conditions".

The parliamentarians also criticized the Israeli raid of Freedom Flotilla last month as a breach of international law, calling it "manifestly disproportionate".

The proceedings of the Terkel committee examining the IDF’s raid on the Gaza flotilla will be made open to the public, The Jerusalem Post announced.

Middle East Inside Line: Israel Eases Gaza Blockade, Internal Probe on Flotilla Raid Concludes, Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

Israel Votes on "Eased" Blockade: Senior cabinet ministers on Sunday approved steps toward easing Israel's blockade.

The Prime Minister's Office said that Israel would release "as soon as possible" a detailed list of goods that would not be allowed into the Gaza Strip. PM Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Israel seeks to keep out of Gaza weapons and material that Hamas uses to prepare and carry out terror and rocket attacks toward Israel and its civilians. All other goods will be allowed into Gaza."

Middle East Inside Line: US & EU Back Israel on “Eased Blockade”, Lebanon-Israeli Crisis?, Egypt’s Manoeuvre, and More…

Hamas called the Israeli step a "deception" and said that the blockade must be lifted entirely.

Israel's Army Radio quotes Mahmoud Zahar as saying that Hamas would never change its policy of 'resistance' against Israel. In an interview with Al Quds, Zahar then allegedly targeted the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and said that "rocket launches should happen in the West Bank as well [as Gaza]" He blamed the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas of "fighting the 'resistance'" and added that it was not Hamas that took over Gaza, but in fact President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement that had seized the power in the West Bank, aided by the Israeli "occupation".

Israel's Internal Probe Concludes: Israel Radio reported Sunday that a new investigation into the raid by the internal Israel Navy probe concluded. According to the report, during the mass offensive against Israeli soldiers, the commando unit was inadequately prepared, lacked sufficient intelligence, and was ill-used in its approach to the Turkish-flagged ship.

A commander involved in the attack said, "I still awake at three A.M. every morning and ask myself: Damn it, how did we not know more?", Haaretz reports.

Lebanon's Flotilla Not Moving: The Gaza-bound Lebanese flotilla is still in Lebanon, and it may not be allowed to depart since Lebanese law forbids a departing vessel to dock in a port under Israeli occupation. Sources also told the Arab daily Al-Hayat that organizers failed to appeal to the government for the necessary permits, authorizing their departure as well as their travel. However, it is still possible that organizers will submit a travel plan to a different destination, perhaps Cyprus, and then change course during the course of their voyage.

US-Israeli Meeting: Washington also welcomed Israel's recent decision to ease the blockade on Gaza. "We believe that the implementation of the policy announced by the government of Israel today should improve life for the people of Gaza, and we will continue to support that effort going forward," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting in Washington, cancelled on 1 June during the flotilla crisis, has been re-scheduled for 6 July. Discussion is expected on two main issues., There is the U.S. position in the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which called for an international conference in 2012 for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, called on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and open its nuclear installations to international inspection, and called for the appointment of a special UN envoy on nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Then there is the "progress" in proximity talks with the West Bank. US Mideast special envoy George Mitchell completed his four rounds of talks and the two sides are ready to talk again. It is uncertain, however, how the Israel's flotilla crisis and, more broadly, the issue of Gaza will affect the course of the talks.

Speaking at a Jewish Agency conference on Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Israel's security remains a top priority for the Americans. Watch for signals as to whether that is the case before Obama and Netanyahu shake hands two weeks from now.

Middle East Inside Line: US & EU Back Israel on "Eased Blockade", Lebanon-Israeli Crisis?, Egypt's Manoeuvre, and More... 

Two Powers Welcome Israel's Decision: The Obama Administration and the European Union have applauded West Jerusalem's announcement that it will ease its land blockade of the Gaza Strip. The White House called the decision a "step in the right direction". US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the Obama administration was interested in seeing an "expansion of the scope and types of goods into Gaza...while addressing, obviously, Israel's legitimate security needs."

Gaza Latest: Varied Reactions to Israel’s “Eased” Blockade

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, added:
Israel must make sure that many, many more goods can get in to Gaza. I look with great interest at what the Israeli cabinet is saying. This is an in-principle statement ... obviously the detail is what matters.

Former Spanish PM Sees Eye to Eye with Israel: Spain had summoned Israel's ambassador following the flotilla crisis. However, former Prime Minister José María Aznar announced that he plans to promote a new initiative called "Friends For Israel" comprised of journalists, philosophers, politicians, writers, and other figures.

According to Aznar, there is radical Islam on one side and Israel that is providing the Judeo-Christian-rooted West with its Jewish elements. Therefore he says, this initiative must defend Israel's right to exist, as "if Israel goes down, we all go down." He added:
Israel is our first line of defense in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos... To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how inexorable our decline now appears.

The real threats to regional stability are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfillment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large.

Aznar also criticized Turkey:
In the wake of the recent incident on board a ship full of anti-Israeli activists in the Mediterranean, it is hard to think of a more unpopular cause to champion. In an ideal world, no state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such as Turkey, would have sponsored and organized a flotilla whose sole purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade, or risking the wrath of the world.

Lebanon-Israel Crisis Approaching?: Lebanon aid ship Miriam is set to sail to Gaza on Sunday. Israeli officials accused Hezbollah of being behind the mission; Hezbollah rejected the claim.

In response, Israel told the United Nations on Friday that this could "affect the peace and security of the region" and said it reserved its right to use "all necessary means" to stop the ships. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, wrote:
It appears that a small number of ships plan to depart from Lebanon and sail to the Gaza Strip which is under the control of the Hamas terrorist regime while those who organize this action claim that they wish to break the blockade on Gaza and to bring humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, the true nature of the actions remains dubious.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials added the Turkish-based Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH), the funders of the Freedom Flotilla, to its terror watch list.

Egypt Rejects Israel Demand on Iran Aid Ships: Cairo newspaper A-Dar reported Friday that Israel issued a request to Egypt to prevent aid ships from Iran reaching Gaza via the Suez Canal. However, Egyptian officials declined Israel's request on the grounds of the "requirements of international law" which makes it "not possible to prevent the passage of any ship through the canal".

Turkey Inside Line: Erdogan Roars at Israel, Extends His Hand to Iraqi Kurdistan

The repercussions continue in Turkish politics from Israel's bloody intervention against the Freedom Flotilla. According to the Turkish daily Radikal, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday:

I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization. I said the same thing to the United States. I am still of the same opinion. They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.

They [Hamas] won the election. You are always talking about democracy. You’ll never let Hamas rule. What kind of democracy is this?

Gaza Flotilla LiveBlog (5 June): Aboard the Rachel Corrie
Turkey Inside Line: Parliament, President, and People Condemn Israel

Hamas was officially hosted in Ankara in 2006 and Erdogan has continuously urged leaders of other states to recognize and give a chance to Hamas as a legitimate political party. He continued yesterday:

I am calling on the whole Turkey, the whole world once more from here, in Konya; The fate of Jerusalem is not different that of Istanbul. The fate of Gaza is not different than that of Ankara. The fate of Ramallah, Nablus, Refah, Cenin and Beytullahim is ever never different than that of Konya. Even if the world keeps silence, we will not!

They [Israelis] saw innocent babies as a threat. They massacred those innocent babies in their mothers' arms, like those terrorists [PKK] here. They massacred those innocent children on their bicycles. They are saw students, youngsters as a threat. Those children threw stones and they threw phosphorus bombs. And, unfortunately, the world is standing behind the ones who used phosphorus bombs.

It has nothing to do with Hamas, al-Qaeda, anti-Semitism. Do not deceive others. Be honest! Our problem has to do with Israel's tyrannizing state terror method.

Then, Erdogan left made his rhetorical mark:
This is an explicit example of Israel's ill psychology, paranoia and trauma. They say "the world is hypocritical to us". The one who is hypocritical, liar and proud of murderers is you! You know killing well. I am talking to them in their language. The sixth command in Torah says "You shall not kill." Let me say it in your language, I am saying in Hebrew: "Lo Tir'tsach."

Meanwhile, the Turkish Prime Minister's "Kurdish Initiative" continues. Massoud Barzani, president of the Regional Kurdish Administration in Iraq, was in Turkey for the firs time in nine years.

Barzani talked to Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).The Iraqi Kurdish leader said that he welcomed and appreciated the "Kurdish Initiative", a government-led project to grant more rights to ethnic Kurds in Turkey. He also told Erdogan he would give support to Turkey's fight against PKK, the separatist/terrorist organisation. Davutoglu called Barzani "Kak Barzani" ("Barzani brother").

Demirtas said:
We expressed to Barzani our satisfaction with developing peaceful relations between Turkey and the [Iraqi] Kurdistan region. Barzani underlined how important his visit is and he said their relations with Turkey would be more robust.

BDP believes that, with good relations between neighbors and the Kurdistan region, Turkey must provide peace in the region. We hope this visit will contribute to peace in the region."

We do politics as an opposition party. We say this initiative does not lead to democratization and radical reforms. Barzani has his own views but we stand at the same point.

As Barzani was holding talks with politicians, his representatives met with Zafer Caglayan, state minister responsible for foreign trade. Caglayan said a delegation of businessmen would pay a visit to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan to seek trade and investment possibilities.

Sinan Celebi, trade and industry authority for the regional administration, added, “Everything is ready and there is potential. Let’s cooperate. We expect Turkish companies to invest as soon as possible. The doors are wide open." The visit is expected to take place in July.

So Davutoglu's "zero-problem" strategy is still on track. Indeed, Erdogan might be interested in boosting northern Iraq's economy in returnfor political and military support against PKK. This would diminish the dominance of BDP amongst Kurdish people inside Turkey. if not the party itself can be "tamed".

Still, the ripples of Israel and Gaza affect even this issue. When asked ababout Erdogan's words accusing Israel of "state terrorism", the deputy chairman of BDP, Bengi Yildiz, said: "That is true, Turkey is applying to state terrorism to Kurds too".

Gaza Flotilla: Haaretz's Gideon Levy "Netanyahu Was Right"

Haaretz's Gideon Levy, a critic of the Israeli Government, bows down to the wisdom of Benjamin Netanyahu. Levy said that all the prophecies of the Israeli Prime Minister on West Jerusalem's crisis of security are coming true, thanks to the efforts of his government against "the existential threat of the Freedom Flotilla::

The time has come to take off our hats to the prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu's predictions have proved accurate, and his prophecies are coming true right before our eyes. Now we can proudly declare that our government is led by a man of vision, a statesman who has foretold the future. Even his greatest critics can't deny it; the facts speak for themselves.

Netanyahu said the whole world is against us. Wasn't he right? He also said we live under an existential threat. Isn't it beginning to look like that? Give it another minute and Turkey will be at war with us too. Netanyahu said there's no chance of reaching an agreement with the Arabs. Wasn't that spot on? Our prime minister, who saw danger lurking in every alleyway and enemies waiting around every corner, who has always taught that there is no hope, who has drummed into us that we shall forever live by the sword (just as his father the historian taught him ), knew what he was talking about.

We haven't had anyone like him since David Ben-Gurion. He's a genuine prophet whose every prediction comes true, one after the other - someone who can really be proud of his accomplishments. Enough mockery, enough ridicule. For Netanyahu is not only a prophet; his leadership has swept up the entire country. There is no longer anyone who can stop him from realizing his vision, and soon the pundits will be writing that Netanyahu was right.

This country now has a blind captain in the cockpit, flying his blindfolded passengers with exemplary precision toward the destination he envisioned. If there had still been any object of his scaremongering that had not yet been attained before this week, along came the outrageous seizure of the flotilla, and that goal too was in the bag.

If anyone was still entertaining a glimmer of hope that our pilot wasn't totally blind, that he had some special sight-enhancing gadget, along came his declaration that the blockade of Gaza would continue. Let the world and wisdom and Gaza all go to hell, and incidentally Israel too - and dash that glimmer of hope as well. After the saws and knives seized on the Marmara have been publicly exhibited, we will be able to convince ourselves once and for all that there is indeed a danger lurking in every alley, an Al-Qaida operative on every ship, weapons on every deck - and even that the Marmara was an existential threat, no less, just as our leader had foreseen.

Of course, no one will demand to see the guns that the activists are alleged to have fired, or the video footage in which Israeli soldiers are seen firing, or the confiscated photographs taken by journalists. For us, the pictures of the severe beatings that the IDF Spokesman's Office has released are enough.

Some 7 billion human beings (less about 5 million Israeli Jews ) are wrong. They haven't got a leader like Netanyahu, and that's why they go on thinking that seizing passenger ships in international waters is an act of piracy, no different from the deeds committed by the pirates of Somalia. They think (wrongly of course ) that Israel has no right to stop a fleet of boats; that the victims are the people of Gaza and the bleeding passengers, not the naval commandos who raided the ship and were beaten; and that the aggressors were the troops who were dropped onto the ship from a helicopter, killing nine civilians with live fire and wounding dozens.

The world is wrong and Netanyahu, with us in tow, is right. We will not lift the blockade. For four years it has yielded not an ounce of benefit, just damage, but what does that matter? Giddyup! Let's fulfill Netanyahu's vision. We'll become an even more despised country and won't have a single friend left in the world, not even the United States. True, it was Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who began this terrible landslide with Operation Cast Lead, after which the world became intolerant of all violent behavior by Israel, but Netanyahu is following in his path.

Despite it all, his vision has not yet been realized in full. He gave rise to one hope: an "economic peace" that would bring prosperity to Palestinians and Israelis. But as yet there has been no greater saboteur of Israeli exports than Netanyahu, and soon everything produced here will have to be sold no further afield than Petah Tikva. Even prophets are entitled to err on occasion, but he had better not give rise to any more hopes.

About half of Israelis want a commission of inquiry, according to a poll published yesterday. It can be assumed that this is only because our soldiers were beaten and humiliated. Why, what else is there to investigate? After all, we have a prophet-statesman whose predictions are coming true, one after the other, and the redeemer is (not ) coming to Zion.