The following is a speech by Jonathan Hoffman to the Israel Support Rally at Downing Street on May 31, 2010
We have all spent today glued to the screens trying to piece together what happened in the seas off the Israeli coast early this morning.
The first point to make is that Israel had every right to board the Mavi Marmara ship. Israel cannot allow unknown goods and people to enter Gaza. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terrorist regime that calls for the murder of Jews, the “obliteration” of Israel and its replacement with an Islamist theocracy. In the past, Israel has intercepted weapons-laden boats headed for Gaza’s coast. No government allows unidentified people and goods to flout their border regulations and enter their countries freely. If these activists behaved similarly at passport and security control in the U.S. or any other nation’s shores, ignoring their official protocol and violently attacking security personnel, they would also have been stopped and arrested.
The flotilla is organised by the Insani Yardim Vakfi, IHH, “humanitarian relief fund”).
In 2006 a Danish research institute called the Danish Institute for International Studies conducted a study which reported that in the past IHH had connections with Al-Qaeda and global jihad operatives. The well-documented study was conducted by Evan Kohlman, an American researcher who specialises in Al-Qaeda and related subjects. It deals with the involvement of Islamic charity funds and foundations in supporting terrorism. The IHH is an extremist Islamist organisation supporting global Jihad, and in this regard is no different from al-Qaeda and Hamas.
In recent years, especially since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, IHH has supported Hamas’ propaganda campaigns by organising public support conferences in Turkey. At those conferences, which featured the participation of senior IHH figures, the heads of IHH expressed their support for Hamas and its strategy (including the armed struggle it espouses), in defiance of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ rival.
IHH is a member of the Union of Good, an umbrella organization of more than 50 Islamic funds and foundations around the globe, which channels money into Hamas institutions in the Palestinian Authority-administered territories. As a Union of Good member IHH has connections with other worldwide Islamic funds and foundations which support Hamas.
Israel outlawed IHH because of its affiliation with the Union of Good and because it is an important factor in Hamas’ global fund raising.
So this is the organisation that is behind this flotilla. An organization that also refused a request from Gilad Shalit’s family to take a package to him in Gaza.
I quote from the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea (12 June 1994)
“It is permissible under rule 67(a) to attack neutral vessels on the high seas when the vessels “are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture.”
The flotilla was warned about breaching Israeli security regulations and was offered by both Israel and Egypt the opportunity to unload its humanitarian cargo in Ashdod and at Port Said – then it would be checked and then admitted to Gaza like all humanitarian goods. And let’s remember that the allegations of collective punishment and an Israeli blockade of Gaza are nonsense. Israel transfers about 15,000 tons of supplies and humanitarian aid every week to the people of Gaza.
But the Mavi Marmara ignored many warnings and sailed into a closed Israeli military zone.
The brave IDF soldiers were lowered onto the Mavi Marmara by helicopter. There is agonising footage taken from the helicopter which you may have seen of one of them being lowered onto the boat and then immediately assaulted and thrown onto the lower deck. He is clubbed with what looks like an iron bar. And then a large metal object. The so-called humanitarian passengers of the boat then try to kidnap him – like they kidnapped Gilad Shalit. Then they throw a stun grenade at the IDF soldiers and then a firebomb. This is all in the video. There is more footage from Channel Ten in Israel this morning which shows an IDF soldier being attacked by a knife.
The brave IDF soldiers tried to board the Mavi Marmara peaceably. Because the organisers of the flotilla had said they would resist peacefully. Israel took them at their word. At first the Israeli soldiers tried to use “paintball rifles” such as are used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin on a Friday about the separation barrier. They did have hanguns but they were to be used only as a last resort, to ensure minimum casualties. They would only use them in a life-threatening situation.
And that is what happened. It can be seen in the footage from the helicopter and from the side of the boat. Their lives were threatened. The “peaceful” humanitarians used knives, stun grenades, firebombs and metal pipes. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel said in his Press conference this morning that two guns were used.
Nevertheless when they came down from the helicopter, the brave IDF soldiers kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.
The result was tragic loss of life which we all regret. Some of the pro-Palestinian activists dies and five IDF soldiers were wounded, two critically. The wounded – and that includes violent activists – are receiving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.
People of good will everywhere should condemn the violence perpetrated by the so-called “humanitarians” on those soldiers as they came down from the helicopter. It is on film for all to see. We call on the new UK coalition government to condemn the violence used by these so called “peace activists” who are a handicap to those in both Israel and Gaza who want to coexist in peace. We say “yes to peace, no to Hamas; yes to peace, no to extremism.“
But above all we salute the bravery of the IDF soldiers who carried out this operation. We wish those who are wounded a Refuah Shlehma, s speedy recovery. We salute their bravery and the bravery of all the IDF soldiers who keep Israel safe, who have done so for 62 years and who will go on doing so, whatever the provocation, whatever the slurs in the media and whatever the lies put out by our enemies.
G-d Bless the IDF.