June 2nd, 2010
02:05 PM ET

Netanyahu defends response, says flotilla not a 'love boat'

Speaking defiantly in the face of worldwide criticism, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the Israeli commando raid on the aid-bound vessels for Gaza, saying the troops acted properly in the bloody raid.

Netanyahu said the goal of the international flotilla was to penetrate Israel's blockade of ships headed to Gaza, necessary to halt weaponry being shipped to militants into Gaza from Iran, and the troops comported themselves in keeping with Israeli policy.

"We continue to protect our civilians, we will continue to allow our soldiers to protect their lives, and the state of Israel will continue to practice its right for self-defense," he said, asserting the aim of the flotilla wasn't to carry aid "because we do send assistance to the Gaza Strip."

Speaking in a brief and frank nationally televised, Netanyahu said a port at Gaza open to militants will pose a grave danger to Israel and the state has the responsibility to stop every vessel, including the flotilla that was targeted Monday.

"That was not a love boat. That was a boat of hatred. It was not a peaceful flotilla. The soldiers who boarded the ships were attacked by clubs, batons and knives. They had the weapons kidnapped from them and shot at them," he said, calling the behavior of the people on the one ship where violence occurred an attempted lynching.

The prime minister said that if the blockade had been penetrated, dozens or hundreds of ships would have eventually converged on Gaza carrying war materiel. And he pointed out that the amount would be greater than that being smuggled through the Gaza-Egyptian tunnels.

"They can bring hundreds of rockets and hundreds of missiles. We have already stopped two ships. One of them was one we stopped in the middle of the sea where there were hundreds of tons of ammunition and weapons that Iran sent to Gaza," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said Iran continues to smuggle weapons into Gaza and Hamas - which controls the territory - continues to arm itself.

"The rockets and missiles that Iran has smuggled into Gaza are now likely to hit areas surrounding Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and some of those are already in Gaza. Therefore, it is our duty and our responsibility according to the international law and according to the logic, common sense, to prevent by air, sea and land smuggling of weapons into Gaza."

Netanyahu said Israel is sorry for the loss of lives during the flotilla raid but emphasized its soldiers were facing "a life-threatening situation."

"I forward my questions to the international community. ... What would you have done if you were in our place and what would you have done in order to protect your civilians who are attacked by hundreds of rockets and missiles? We know the facts. We all know the reality," he said.

The prime minister said that if Israel didn't take the steps it did, the result would be an Iranian regime in Gaza just kilometers away from Jerusalem.

"This is a destructive scenario, and this a very immediate threat to Israel. I'm telling you and I'm telling my friends in the countries that criticize us that an Iranian port in the Mediterranean" will be a threat.

"We will stop and check and examine every ship that is coming to Gaza," he said.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel • Middle East • Uncategorized
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Ann

    If I were Israel I would have done just what they did because if this were truly a humanitarian aid expedition the ship in question should have allowed the soldiers to board and search without starting a national incident. The ships should have allowed for any searches required of any government. The whole object of this was to gain media attention for the Palestinian cause. Israel could not possibly have won in this situation since the people
    organizing the whole sham were out to make Israel look bad. When will people stop using the media to stir up trouble globally and when will the media start researching a story and not just the political side of everything? I say this is time for a global change to understand Israel has a right to maintain their borders (sea or land or air) as we do or as should be doing.

    June 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hugh Jorgan

    The Israeli's are acting like German Nazis.

    June 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Support Israel

      You clearly don't know your world history or your facts.

      June 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • pe

      he is clearly an idiot!
      i we were acting like Nazis you would be dead by now.

      June 2, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. thomas

    Israeli commandos drop onto the deck of a ship in the middle of the night and expected to receive a warm hot cup of tea and hugs and kisses. What a joke. The Israelis used paint guns to make the ones they wanted to kill as they commandeered the ship and then the indiscriminate killing began. This is a violation of International Law. But since the Israelis brake international law in a daily bases this is nothing new.

    June 2, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Support Israel

      Thomas,

      Can you tell us what international law they broke?

      June 2, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan Atkinson

      "Support Israel" obviously you are a Jew and a retarded one I might say, what business do you have in a civilian boat on international waters, and draw weapons against civilians who was carrying sticks, if their agenda was terrorism don't you think they would have had weapons on board? The brave! IDF executed people close range? That’s how you develop propaganda and justify actions? It’s better to keep your mouth shut than come out like an ignorant retard. It's absolutely wrong to shell Israel with rockets, etc..., I agree with you whole heartedly, but nothing should/would justify such cowardly acts like the flotilla one.

      June 6, 2010 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. mbrj

    There will NEVER be peace in the region with Israel and her Arab neighbors...why, you ask? Because they don't spell the same way: Israel wants PEACE and has demonstrated ad nauseum how much it is willing to give in order to achieve it...which the Moslems interpret as weakness. However, ALL of the Arabs want PIECE...the WHOLE piece of the region. They mean to exterminate the Jewish people and finish the job of their collaborators, the Nazis...may Hashem foil their objectives. JEWS...let us cry out to Him as we did so many years ago in Egypt while they held us as their slaves...Please Hashem help us and save us!!! IN ONE VOICE!!!

    June 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jim

    Netanyahu is a fool. This raid was utterly stupid - even for those who are die-hard Israel supporters like AIPAC. Every violent act by Israel plays into the hands of the Palestinians. Time is on the side of the Palestinians. Time is working against Israel. Palestinian support is growing while Israeli support is eroding. It is only a matter of time until the world turns its back on Israel. And the Israelis will have nobody to blame but themselves for electing such ridiculous people to run their country.

    June 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MikeV

    They attacked the soldiers as they were coming down the ropes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUOeBWDJfR0&feature=related

    June 2, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedUpInSeattle

      Thank you MikeV
      I feel like the world has lost its mind. All we saw was condemnation of Israel. The Terrorist have become very skilled at shaping public opinion against America and Israel. They instigate violence, then turn public opinion against those who dare defend themselves. I am sending that YouTube link to everyone I know. I am so sick and tired of those making excuses for terrorist.

      June 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Support Israel

    Would Netanyahu have been wise to allow the penetration of the blockade? The world will turns it's back on Israel, but the questions is WHY? Because they want to live in freedom and protect them selves from the enemy? You can ride the "Hate Israel" train, but you don't even know why?

    June 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. anonimoose1

    Did this event take place in international waters? If not, the search was entirely proper. If So, it was piracy. It's just that simple. Remember last year when boarding and confiscating foreign vessels by Somalians was labled piracy? and rightly so. But was it just because the perpetrators were black? Think about it .

    June 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Support Israel

      It's not that simple. And it has absolutely nothing to do about Somali pirates being black. You see, Israel's blockade regardless of it's location in international waters is legal. Because it's about self defense. Hijacking a commercial vessel and using humans as leverage to commit extortion is not.

      Running that blockade is committing an act of aggression against Israel. So is firing live ammunition at the soldiers. So is beating them with clubs and chairs.

      Humanitarian aid is available by following protocol. Israel requires that all aid to Gaza be inspected. No construction materials, weapons, or other commerce may enter the area. Included in the material that was on board vessels in the recent attempt to run the blockade, included weapons, bullet-proof vests and concrete. Take some focus pills and stop being so easily distracted by your victim-mentality.

      June 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Metroliner

    A so-called humanitarian ship steams for Gaza despite knowledge that it may very well come under fire by breaching a known boundary. Stupidity. Or perhaps some sick chance at martyrdom and opportunity to finger point. Bravo Israel !! And now another ship is heading there to try the same thing. They should sink this one and let survivors swim for it. Make others think twice before embarking on silly feel-good jouneys.

    June 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ed R

    Israel did what was necessary to protect itself.

    June 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. No Hamas Equals Peace

    Doesn't Anyone realize That They Had Worlwide Support to Have This Blockade And This Flotilla Ignored That. Sorry But That Is Not ISRAEL's Fault And Everyone Knows It.

    June 2, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Hamas Equals Peace

      EXACTLY!

      June 2, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BS

    Now, our country is a friend and ally to Israel, but for the longest it seems that our Government is more worried about Israel problems than our own at home and I am sick and tired of the bullsh!t. So to our leaders this is the USA you're working for NOT Israel. If you want to work for Israel take your azz over there then. And I think we need to kick out all the politicians who seem like they care more about Israel than the US. We have our damn problems at home, we don't need to be worried about what the rest of the world is doing.

    June 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BS

    And to add Israel should do whatever it has to, to protect their country. As well as any other country in the world.

    June 2, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ira

    I just want to remind everyone here, that Israel DID suggest to search and check the sheep peacfeully, but their suggestion was declined. Maybe for some of you those people are brave heros, but in my eyes they're just poorly informed agitators- Israel allows tens of trucks loaded with humanitarian help to pass through the blockade on a daily basis. As was told before, the purpose of the blockade is to prevent smuggling of weapons to a territory ruled by TERRORISTS. It is unfortunate that among them there are hundreds of thousands of innocent children and women, but can you imagine yourself living side by side with a population whose extreme views were translated into hundreds of terrorist attacks throughout the years? I truly cannot understand how, especially americans, who experienced on their own skin the horror of 9/11, the most devestating terror attack in the history, cannot sympathize with the situation that we israelis are facing. In no way am I justifing the lamentable deaths of those on the sheep, but if someone is intending to illegally pass into your territory, and won't back out EVEN after numerous warnings, you simply can't blame the troops for trying to stop them! There was no intention to kill, but the soldiers were forced to defend themselves after facing a brutal attack, i mean c'mon!- you have the videos! To me, it's like sticking your fingers into a lion's cage in a zoo, and complaining after it has bitten your finger off.

    June 2, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    I totally agree with Israel's reaction. Check out the slow-mo video of the boarding.....the IDF was attacked, no question about it. Can't hack it? Grab your jacket!

    June 2, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
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