- Written by Prime Minister's Media Adviser
"I would like to commend the Israel Navy for their efficient action in detaining the ship that tried to reach the Gaza coast in contravention of the law." Use of force was unnecessary, and the vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod Port.
IDF Spokesperson: After exhausting all diplomatic channels, the Israeli government ordered the Israeli Navy to redirect a vessel in order to prevent a breach of the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
"In accordance with international law, the Israeli Navy advised the vessel several times to change course. Following their refusal, forces visited and searched the vessel in international waters in order to prevent the intended breach of the maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. The forces have reported that use of force was unnecessary, and that the process was uneventful. The vessel is currently being escorted to Ashdod Port and is expected to arrive within 12-24 hours."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Monday, 29 June 2015), issued the following statement:
"I would like to commend the sailors and commanders of the Israel Navy for their determined and efficient action in detaining the passengers on the ship that tried to reach the Gaza coast in contravention of the law. This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region. Preventing entry by sea was done in accordance with international law and even received backing from a committee of the UN Secretary General.
Israel is a democracy that defends itself in accordance with international law. We are not prepared to accept the entry of war materiel to the terrorist organizations in Gaza as has been done by sea in the past. Just last year we foiled an attempt to smuggle by sea hundreds of weapons that were destined for use in attacks against Israel's citizens.
There is no siege on Gaza. Israel assists in transferring goods and humanitarian equipment to Gaza - approximately 800 trucks a day that have recently brought into Gaza more than 1.6 million tons of goods. Moreover, Israel assists in hundreds of humanitarian projects, through international organizations, including the building of clinics and hospitals.
Israel is a state that seeks peace and acts in accordance with international law so that its people can live in safety and its children grow up in peace and quiet."
Excerpt from PM Netanyahu's remarks at the start of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting:
"I would like to express my appreciation to the sailors of the Israel Navy for their perfect and precise operation in stopping the ship off the coast of Gaza. This entire flotilla is hypocritical. There is no need for these small boats to deliver consumer goods or humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Since Operation Protective Edge, Israel has delivered 1.6 million tons of materials to Gaza, more than any other country, in a clear manner, as our unequivocal policy. This means almost a ton of equipment for every resident, 800 trucks a day.
I would compare this to the cargo of this boat. Approximately 500,000 such boats laden with goods - this is what compares to what Israel has transferred. Thus, there is no need for this. Neither is there any problem, if they want to deliver humanitarian goods to Gaza, it is possible to do so via the land crossings, with Israel filtering out - of course - the possibility of transferring weapons through these crossings.
Instead, they chose to be defiant here. They could have sailed to Syria, where over 300,000 people have been slaughtered, millions have lost their homes and millions have been exiled from their country, but they chose to demonstratively provoke the State of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East, which is fighting terrorists that deliberately fire at its citizens and who intentionally hide behind Palestinian civilians.
Therefore, this flotilla is rife with hypocrisy and I am pleased to say that its public and propaganda effect is less because people around the world are beginning to understand the lie involved here."
Following is a copy of the letter that was issued last night:
"Welcome to Israel,
You seem to have gotten lost. Perhaps you meant to sail to a place not far from here - Syria, where Assad’s army is slaughtering its people every day, and is supported by the murderous Iranian regime.
Here in Israel we face a reality in which terrorist organizations like Hamas try to kill innocent civilians. We defend our citizens against these attempts in accordance with international law.
Despite this, Israel transports goods and humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip - up to 800 trucks a day. In the past year we enabled the entry of over 1.6 million tons of products, an average of one ton per person in the Gaza Strip. By the way, these supplies are equivalent to 500,000 boats like the one you came in on today.
Israel provides assistance to hundreds of humanitarian projects through international organizations, including the building of clinics and hospitals.
However, we will not allow the terrorist organizations to transfer weapons into the Gaza Strip by sea. Only one year ago, we thwarted an attempt to smuggle hundreds of weapons into the Gaza Strip by ship. These weapons were meant to target innocent Israeli civilians.
There is no siege on the Gaza Strip, and you are welcome to transfer any humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip through Israel.
Barring the entrance of boats and ships into the Gaza Strip is in accordance with international law, and was even backed by a committee commissioned by the United Nations Secretary General.
If you were truly concerned about human rights, you would not be sailing in support of a terrorist regime which summarily executes citizens in the Gaza Strip, and uses children as human shields.
If you were to travel around in Israel, you would see for yourself that the only stable democracy in the Middle East guarantees equality for all its citizens and freedom of worship for members of all religions; it is a country that upholds international law so that its people can live in safety and its children grow up in peace and quiet."
Following is an additional excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks today, (Monday, 29 June 2015), at the start of a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee:
"I am not impressed by the potholes in the nuclear talks. To my regret, what we are seeing are Iran's increasing demands, and the major powers' concessions which are also increasing, in keeping with the Iranian pressure. This agreement is going from a bad agreement to a worse agreement, and is becoming worse by the day. In effect, it is paving Iran's way to being not only a major power with one or two nuclear bombs, but with an unlimited arsenal within a decade with the possibility of achieving several atomic bombs beforehand, by violating the monitoring which, in any case, is full of holes. Above all, in addition to this, the agreement also gives Iran many billions of dollars, apparently hundreds of billions of dollars, within a short time, which will allow it to finance its increasing aggression, first of all the murderous stranglehold it is using around the State of Israel, but also in other parts of the Middle East that are subject to its aggression, such as Yemen, Iraq and many other places.
Therefore, there is both a conventional threat and a non-conventional threat, which in my view will heighten the nuclear arms race in the Middle East. For all of these reasons, this is a bad agreement. I appreciate the fact that there is a broad consensus within the State of Israel against this agreement. There are also increasing voices in the West against this agreement; they understand the significance its implementation would have on global security, theirs as well. But, as has been said, this debate is still taking place. I think it is important that Israel's voice be heard, along with that of many others."
The Gaza Strip is not under siege
Copyright: Prime Minister's Office
- Written by MFA
The 2014 Gaza Conflict: Factual and Legal Aspects - The Full Report
The 2014 Gaza Conflict was a peak in the ongoing armed conflict waged against Israel for over a decade by terrorist organisations operating from the Gaza Strip. This Report provides information so that others may reach an informed understanding of the reasons for the Conflict and the actions of the parties thereto.
On July 7, 2014, the Government of Israel ordered the Israel Defense Forces to launch an aerial operation against Hamas and other terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip. This operation, termed “Operation Protective Edge”, was launched in response to increasing rocket and mortar fire on Israel from the Gaza Strip during June and early July 2014, and despite Israel's continued efforts at de-escalation.
On July 17, 2014, as a result of Hamas's continued rejection of ceasefire initiatives, ongoing rocket and mortar fire and the execution of attacks in Israeli territory by sea and through cross-border assault tunnels, the Government of Israel authorized the entry of ground forces into a limited area of the Gaza Strip. These ground forces were tasked with identifying and neutralizing the cross-border assault tunnels, which originated from the outskirts of the urban areas of the Gaza Strip. The ground forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip on August 5, after locating and neutralising 32 cross-border assault tunnels, and despite ongoing rocket and mortar attacks against Israel. The 2014 Gaza Conflict concluded on August 26, with an unconditional ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The Full Report comprises official documents concerning factual and legal aspects of the 2014 Gaza Conflict. These documents provide information on the following topics:
background to the armed conflict that Hamas has waged against Israel for over a decade; the circumstances that led Israel to launch Operation Protective Edge;
the effect of Hamas's attacks on Israel's civilian population and Israel's civil defense measures;
the tactics of Hamas and other terrorist organizations during the conflict and their violations of international law;
detailed factual and legal information concerning the actions of the IDF during the conflict, including the steps taken before and during the conflict to ensure Israel's compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict; and
Israel's examination and investigation mechanism for dealing with alleged misconduct by IDF forces.
Executive Summary - Introduction
The following Report - The 2014 Gaza Conflict (7 July - 26 August 2014): Factual and Legal Aspects - presents detailed factual and legal information regarding the intensive hostilities that took place from July 7 to August 26, 2014 between the State of Israel and Hamas and other terrorist organisations operating in the Gaza Strip ("the 2014 Gaza Conflict", also known as Operation "Protective Edge").
This Report is intended to provide information so that others may reach an informed understanding of the reasons for the 2014 Gaza Conflict and the actions of the parties thereto. Although the Report does not purport to provide complete coverage of the 2014 Gaza Conflict, it constitutes an unprecedented effort to present factual and legal aspects concerning the Conflict.
The Report includes an assessment of the events leading up to the 2014 Gaza Conflict, describing the overall objectives for Israel and the rationale behind Israel’s strategic decisions. The Report presents Israel’s legal positions concerning the conduct of hostilities, examples of military targets and individuals targeted by the Israel Defense Forces ("IDF") during the Conflict, statistics concerning the amount of humanitarian aid that entered the Gaza Strip with Israel’s facilitation, details regarding the costs borne by Israel’s civilian population as a result of the 2014 Gaza Conflict, and information revealing the unlawful activities of Hamas and other terrorist organisations. The Report also discusses Israel’s justice system, and its procedures for examining and investigating possible violations of the Law of Armed Conflict.
The 2014 Gaza Conflict was another peak of hostilities in the ongoing armed conflict that has been waged against Israel for well over a decade by terrorist organisations operating from the Gaza Strip. The nature of the hostilities between the IDF and these terrorist organisations in the summer of 2014 was characterised by the following two interrelated elements.
First, the conflict occurred primarily in an urban environment. Hamas combat manuals and training materials recovered by IDF forces in the Gaza Strip demonstrate that Hamas’s strategy was to deliberately draw the hostilities into the urban terrain, and to use built-up areas and the presence of the civilian population for tactical advantage and political gain. This strategy was obvious during the 2014 Gaza Conflict in view of the sheer scope of military activity that Hamas and other terrorist organisations embedded within the urban environment.
Second, the conflict involved non-state actors who defy international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict applicable to the hostilities within the Gaza Strip. More than just drawing the fighting into the urban terrain, these organisations often unlawfully intertwined their military operations with the civilian environment. IDF airborne and ground forces faced militants disguised as civilians and as IDF soldiers, residential homes converted to military command centres, multistory buildings used as pre-prepared surveillance positions, mosque minarets employed as sniping posts, schools utilized as weapons caches, civilian structures extensively booby-trapped, and tunnel openings and infrastructure hidden in and under civilian areas.
This exploitation of civilian surroundings - which often constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity - posed significant operational, legal and ethical challenges for the IDF. The IDF is committed to conducting all its operations in accordance with international law and makes efforts, including beyond its legal obligations, to mitigate the risk of harm to civilians when doing so. Despite the IDF’s commitment to the rule of law and efforts to protect civilians, an unfortunate result of the complex realities described above is that during the 2014 Gaza Conflict numerous civilians were caught in the hostilities.
It is against this background that the harm to civilians and civilian objects in the Gaza Strip that resulted from the 2014 Gaza Conflict should be assessed. In all armed conflicts, the application of military force almost inevitably causes residual and incidental harm; this is even more so when the hostilities occur in the urban environment. The 2014 Gaza Conflict in particular involved highintensity, protracted hostilities, including close-quarter combat and intensive urban warfare, exacerbating the risk of harm to civilians within the combat arena. Such harm was also the direct result of rockets and mortars that were launched towards Israel from within the Gaza Strip but that fell short. Furthermore, much of what may have appeared to external parties to be indiscriminate harm to civilians or purely civilian objects was in fact legitimate attacks against military targets that merely appear civilian but were actually part of the military opera tions of these terrorist organisations. Many allegedly "civilian" casualties were in fact militants. Harm to the civilian population also occurred as the result of unfortunate - yet lawful - incidental effects of legitimate military action in the vicinity of civilians and their surroundings, and as a result of the inescapable constraint of commanders not being infallible, intelligence not being perfect and technological systems sometimes failing.
As stated repeatedly by the IDF and the Government of Israel’s highest representatives, Israel did not intend, and deeply regrets, the harm caused to the Palestinian civilian population and surroundings during the 2014 Gaza Conflict.
Deputy FM Tzipi Hotovely's Press briefing on Israeli Report on the 2014 Gaza Conflict
MFA Director General Dore Gold Presents Israeli Report on the 2014 Gaza Conflict
- Written by Herzliya Conference
Top Israeli Leaders to Speak at 15th Annual Herzliya Conference
The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering will run June 7th-9th at the IDC Herzliya Campus
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has confirmed his participation in the 15th annual Herzliya Conference which will take place at the IDC Herzliya campus June 7th-9th, 2015. The Prime Minister will deliver the Herzliya address which closes the conference.
Prime Minister Netanyahu will be the first among the many Israeli leaders who will be speaking at the event, including (in alphabetical order): MK Naftali Bennett – Minister of Education/Minister of Diaspora Affairs (Jewish Home), MK Arye Deri – Minister of Economy/Minister of the Negev and Galilee (Shas), MK Moshe Gafni – Chairman of Knesset Finance Committee (United Torah Judaism), MK Zehava Galon – Chairman of the Meretz Party, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad – Director of the Political-Military and Policy Bureau -Ministry of Defense, MK Tzachi Hanegbi – Chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee (Likud), MK Isaac Herzog – Chairman of the Opposition, Labor Party and Zionist Union, MK Tzipi Hotovely – Deputy Foreign Minister (Likud), MK Tzipi Livni – Fmr. Minister of Foreign Affairs & Fmr. Minister of Justice (Zionist Union), MK Ayman Odeh – Head of the Joint Arab List, MK Amb. Michael Oren – Fmr. Israeli Amb. to the U.S.(Kulanu), MK Amir Peretz – Former Minister of Defense (Zionist Union), MK Ayelet Shaked – Minister of Justice (Jewish Home), MK Silvan Shalom – Vice Premier and Minister of the Interior (Likud), MK Ofer Shelach – Member Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee (Yesh Atid), Maj. Gen. Nimrod Shefer – IDF Head of Planning Directorate, Yehuda Weinstein – Israel’s Attorney General, Lt. Gen. (res.) MK Moshe Ya’alon – Minister of Defense (Likud).
Israeli President H.E. Reuven Rivlin will also be addressing the delegates on opening night.
The Conference will also host many global leaders, from the political, military, economic, academic and media arenas. Keynote speakers this year include: former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, renowned economist Nouriel Roubini and U.S. political activist Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
The proceedings will be in English or with simultaneous translation.
For more information and a complete schedule (subject to change) log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng
Follow the Conference on:
Our Website - http://www.herzliyaconference.org/Eng/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference
Twitter - http://twitter.com/HerzliyaConf. - #HC15
The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.
- Written by Taglit
Taglit Takes Tel Aviv
Taglit-Birthright Israel celebrates 15 years and 500,000 participants with a unique Tel Aviv Urban Experience
Thousands of Taglit-Birthright Israel participants took part in the Tel Aviv Urban Experience, exploring contemporary Tel Aviv up-close and personal as part of the celebrations surrounding the 15th anniversary of the organization and reaching the milestone of 500,000 participants.
The three-day experience came to an enthusiastic conclusion at the Wohl Amphitheater in the presence of honored guests including Co-Founders Mr. Charles Bronfman and Mr. Michael Steinhardt. Bronfman and Steinhardt met on stage with Taglit-Birthright Israel's 500,000th participant, 24 year old Molly Dodd from New Jersey. Molly surprised the honorable guests by presenting them a framed letter dating back to 1998 written by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who welcomed the launch of Taglit-Birthright Israel. In the letter, Netanyahu described his strong belief that Taglit-Birthright Israel would play a central role in strengthening the connection between young Jews in the Diaspora with their Jewish heritage and the State of Israel.
"I am thrilled to discover Israel for the first time through Taglit-Birthright Israel, and excited to continue exploring my Jewish roots" said Dodd. "I am deeply moved to be the 500,000th participant of the most successful organization in the Jewish world. I feel honored to meet its founders and be able to show my gratitude and respect for the incredible impact they have had over the years."
on the photo from left to right: Staff Sergeant SHay giladi from the Search and Rescue Unit, Gidi Mark, CEO of Taglit-Birthright Israel, Mr. Charles Bronfman, Molly Dodd, Mr .Michael Steinhard
Photo credit: Erez Uzir
- Written by MFA
The most dangerous place in the world for journalists is the Middle East. The iron-fisted rule Hamas has on the Gaza Strip provides a powerful example of what happens when the press is not free to report what they see and hear. Israel is the only country in the region with a free press.
The United Nations Security Council (May 27, 2015) unanimously adopted a resolution condemning all violations and abuses committed against journalists and strongly deploring impunity for such acts.
Israel Ambassador David Roet addressed the high-level meeting:
Thank you very much Madame President, and congratulations to Lithuania for a successful presidency of the Security Council. I would like to thank Minister Linkevičius, for personally chairing this meeting.
I would like to take a moment to recognize that we have Marianne Pearl in the Security Council with us today. The brutal murder of Marianne's husband Daniel in Pakistan in 2002 shocked the world, but Marianne’s tireless work ensures that his legacy lives on. Daniel is remembered very fondly in Israel. יהי זכרו ברוך - May his memory be blessed.
This discussion could not come at a more critical time for journalists in conflict situations. These brave men and women serve as the eyes, ears, and mouth of the entire world, in the very places that many would prefer us blind, deaf, and mute. Justice Louis Brandeis famously said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Today, unfortunately, there are many places under a total eclipse. Without the work of courageous reporters, repressive regimes go unchecked, atrocities go unrecorded, and the public remains unaware of the reality on the ground.
Those who work in places of conflict and strife ensure the free flow of information- from distant battlefields around the globe to our Ipads in the comfort of our homes.
There are places in the world where a camera is considered a deadly weapon, where a tweet is an act of treason, and a microphone is grounds for arrest. Extremists groups target journalists not only to silence them but to declare war on the most fundamental values of the free world - the freedom of opinion and expression, the freedom to speak our mind, and the freedom to receive and impart information. They seek to force their barbaric ideology on us by dictating at the point of a gun what we can and cannot say. Make no mistake, these groups recognize no borders and their violence and intimidation is not restricted to any specific region of the world.
The shots at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris were meant to silence the community of journalists world-wide. However, as the hundreds of thousands of citizens of France proclaimed in the streets - we will not allow the enemies of free press to silence our freedoms.
In these times of instability, journalists are compelled to report from nations ruled by fear and repression, and from lawless lands ruled by warlords. Those whose duty it is to report on the horrific events in these areas face unprecedented dangers of being abducted, tortured, and brutally murdered.
The most dangerous place in the world for journalists is the Middle East. From Saudi Arabia to Iraq, and from Gaza to Iran, freedom of the press is under siege. The hope for new freedoms shriveled under the harsh reality of Middle Eastern autocrats and theocrats. They are determined to use any means at their disposal to silence those who would question their legitimacy.
Ten months ago in Iran, a Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian, was arrested along with his wife. He has been detained without bail, denied access to an attorney, accused of espionage and quote, "propaganda against the establishment." Just yesterday his shadowy trial opened. Not surprisingly, the hearing to decide his fate will be conducted behind closed doors.
In other parts of the Middle East, terrorists have seized control, and journalists face an even more barbaric fate. These fanatical zealots mock the very idea of human rights, and prefer rule by the sword over rule by law. Their idea of due process is a masked man beheading a helpless human being on his knees, and posting the execution on youtube.
The iron-fisted rule Hamas has on the Gaza Strip provides a powerful example of what happens when the press is not free to report what they see and hear. Israeli families spent last summer racing to bomb shelters, knowing they had only seconds to take cover from Hamas rockets.
Thousands of rockets were fired in broad daylight from hospitals, schools, and childrens’ playgrounds. Yet, those who turned on their TV or opened their newspapers did not see reports of the obvious war crimes committed by Hamas.
Ask yourselves, why did so few pictures of these rockets, or the Hamas terrorists who launched them, ever see the light of day?
The answer to this question comes from the stories of the journalists themselves: Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati dared not report that Hamas-launched rockets killed Palestinian children in a refugee camp, until he was, in his own words "out of Gaza far from Hamas retaliation". An Indian film crew videotaped a Hamas missile launch just meters from their hotel room, but waited until they were beyond the reach of Hamas to air the damning footage.
Under such conditions, missiles launches go unseen, the use of human shields goes unreported, and falsehoods are accepted as truths.
While Hamas routinely harasses and intimidates journalists, the Palestinian Authority is no better. According to a U.S. State Department Human Rights report, PA security forces harass, detain, and prosecute journalists for trying to do their jobs. Furthermore, the PA abuses the idea of a free press by using state controlled media outlets to broadcast hateful rhetoric and dangerous incitement.
There is only one exception to the rule in the Middle East. According to Freedom House, an organization which monitors suppression of freedom around the world, Israel is the only country in the region with a free press. We in Israel understand that a free press is the cornerstone of democracy.
Those of us fortunate enough to live in an open society know that with a free press comes bad press. In Israel, we know this all too well. The press is free to challenge the strategic assessment of the head of the army, to debate the reasoning of the chief justice, and to give political advice to the Prime Minister and his cabinet. Israel is a model for how a democratic nation, even while facing immense challenges, can maintain a free and thriving press.
Threats to journalists and the free press are threats to our way of life. When a journalist cannot report the truth, and the public is left in the dark, tyranny, dictatorship, and abuse of human rights will follow.
It is the responsibility of the international community to work together to protect journalists across the globe. The United Nations was founded on the basis of allowing free and open debate to ensure a peaceful world. Only a determined commitment by this Council to safeguard the free press can ensure the promise of this vision for ourselves and for future generations.
I thank you Madam President.
Photo: Israel Ambassador David Roet addressing the UN Security Council (archive)
Copyright: UN Photo/ Loey Felipe