Was the flotilla carrying anything other than humanitarian aid cargo?
No. The ships are carrying humanitarian aid only. The flotilla will deliver things like medical aid, food, clothing items, prefabricated homes, children’s playgrounds, stationery items, iron bars, cement. There is not even a razor, knife or jackknife onboard.
Is the flotilla going to violate Israeli territorial waters?
Absolutely NO. The flotilla did not even pass close by the Israeli waters. The ships were sailing through international water right into Gaza without violating any country’s territorial waters. Gaza is a Palestinian territory, does not belong to Israel. Israel is an occupier in Gaza. The blockade imposed on Gaza since 2006 is completely illegal, it is nothing but oppressive and totalitarian. UN Security Council Resolution 1860 stated that the embargo is illegal and a violation of human rights and has to be removed immediately. We do not need Israel’s approval in order to arrive in Gaza through international waters, since Israel does not have any right in international waters and Gaza waters according to international laws.
Is the flotilla organized by mainstream Turkish people only?
No. The flotilla has participants, donors and organizers from all around the world. People from all walks of life, of different religions, races, ideologies come from 50 countries including England, Spain, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kuwait, Australia, Sweden, Mauritania, Macedonia, Bahrain, Pakistan, Vatican, Germany, Argentina, Morocco, Italy, Canada, Syria, Lebanon, Amman, South Africa, France, Bosnia Herzegovina, New Zealand, the U.S.A., Ireland, Greece, Yemen, Jordan, Albania, Egypt and Turkey. Around half of those people are Turkish citizens and the rest are nationals of other countries. There are Muslims, Christian, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans…etc. on the ships. Besides, around 30 of the passengers are European MPs. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a Holocaust survivor in her 80s named Hedy Epstein, a retired U.S. army colonel and lawmakers from a dozen European countries are also onboard.
Are the participants of the flotilla only supporters and members of IHH?
No. There are hundreds of NGOs and international organizations supporting the flotilla. People with various political ideologies, from different ethnic groups, religious affiliations…etc within Turkey give their support to this flotilla campaign. People of Turkey including Kurds, Armenians, Turks, Circassians …etc united as one and support this flotilla.
Does the flotilla have an anti-Semitist agenda?
NO, absolutely no. Gaza flotilla has been organized in order to break the illegal and inhumane embargo on Gaza imposed by Israel as a “collective punishment” of the people of Palestine. People from all religions join and support the flotilla with a conscience in order to raise awareness of the violations of human rights in Gaza. Jews from various countries are also onboard the boats. Thus, one of the passengers of the flotilla is Hedy Epstein a Holocaust survivor. Besides, organizations such as European Jews for Justice and the Jewish Call support the flotilla to Gaza.
How does Israel justify the blockade on Gaza?
In the aftermath of the democratic elections in 2006 in Gaza, Israel decided that it can punish the people of Gaza collectively by imposing the inhumane embargo because of their democratic choices. This policy of Israel has been subject to criticism by the UN and Amnesty International in their annual human rights report. Both organizations declared Israeli embargo as “collective punishment” which is against the Fourth Geneva Convention. European Union have also made an official statement a few days ago regarding the flotilla and demanded Israel to lift the siege unconditionally and immediately.
Israel states that Gaza is in good condition and does not really need humanitarian aid. They also claim that regular delivery of aid to Gaza is carried out by Israel. Is this true?
No, it is not. Currently more 75% of Gaza is totally destroyed, still suffering the consequences of Israeli offensive Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. This is a fact confirmed by the UNDP reports. Claiming to attack military bases in Gaza, Israel left Gaza in total destruction. Over 6000 families still live in tents. In the last 2 years over 10,000 people in Gaza lost their lives due to treatable diseases because of the embargo. People of Gaza are deprived off their most basic need. Israel, with the excuse that it will be used to construct military bases does not allow entry to construction materials, cement, iron bars…etc. at all. All of these facts and more are listed in both by the UN (Goldstone Report) and Amnesty International in their report on Gaza, the information is made accessible to the whole world.
If your aim is to help the people of Gaza, wouldn’t you be able to co-operate with the Israeli government in delivering the aid?
Unfortunately not. IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation launched an official written application to the Israeli consulate here in Turkey 1,5 years ago asking for co-operation and still have not received any response from their side. Thus, Israeli government is not sincere when it comes to humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza and so far they made this clear by their actions. Besides, Israel and the inhumane embargo are responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza anyway.
Gaza has borders both with Israel Egypt, therefore you could have deliver the aid cargo through Egypt by land, wouldn’t this be more convenient and efficient?
Unfortunately no. Egyptian government has not been making aid delivery any easier than Israel has, thanks to their fear of harming their relation with Israel and this affecting their political interests negatively.
Israel claims that they declared Gaza territorial waters as their own sovereignty because of Israel’s national security concerns. According to international law, what does this “national security zone” policy mean?
It means nothing and no one else can be held liable by Israel’s own set of rules. The embargo imposed on Gaza is an illegal, inhumane and immoral policy of Israel. UN Security Council Resolution 1860 marked the embargo as illegal and stated that it should be lifted immediately.
What would be the consequences of an attack on a civilian ship that is carrying the flag of a NATO member in international waters?
We do not know, however, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey made a statement that says promising reprisals if the Israeli Navy prevents the Freedom Flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip.
Israel stated that they will stop the flotilla no matter what the costs may be . Should Israel intercept civilian ships which are not violating its territorial waters and haul the ships to an Israeli harbor, what will be the consequences in terms of international laws?
That will be nothing but a pure act of piracy. It should also be noted that those Israeli officials who make and implement that kind of operation will have to bear with the consequences. Moreover, activists (including a number of MPs) are citizens of 50 countries. In case Israel attempts a military operation on a civilian ship in international waters, it is certain that they will experience difficulties in their relations with 50 countries. Thus, piracy and oppression will lead to the isolation of Israel in the eyes of international public and will contribute to Israel’s reputation as a “terrorist state”.
Israel justifies its actions and blockade by claiming that they are in a state of war. What does this statement mean in terms of international laws?
According to international laws and Fourth Geneva Convention, even in a state of war humanitarian aid cannot be subjected to blockade and no restriction on aid delivery can be performed in war zones.
What happens if the Israeli defense forces detains the peace activists and deport them back to their home countries? Is everything going to be alright for Israel then?
No. Aid volunteers are determined to carry out nonviolent resistance against Israeli aggression. Soon we will be organizing other larger aid flotillas to the region. Sooner or later, Israel will have to lift the siege and end the embargo. Their aggression will result in nothing but isolation of Israel in the eyes of the international community.
Israel trying to act bold in order to let go of guilt!