Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman today angrily condemned the aid ships en route to the Gaza Strip, declaring them a “violent” attack on the sovereignty of Israel at sea, and insisting that “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”
Most of the aid ships have already reached the rendezvous point in the Mediterranean Sea, but technical problems with one of the vessels has delayed the final journey to the besieged strip until Saturday morning.
The ships aim to sail in during the day to prevent a nighttime ambush, as Israeli warships have taken to the sea and the Navy has been ordered to stop the delivery of medicine, toys and construction material “at any costs.”
The nine ship flotilla is carrying some 10,000 tons of aid, a combination of supplies banned by Israel and other supplies they have allowed in only extremely limited quantities.
Israel has already set up a detention center for the soon to be captured aid workers, but the threat to use force against the ships is the more pressing concern, as previous confrontations have involved Israeli warships intentionally ramming aid vessels and nearly sinking at least one in the open sea.
Israel’s naval power is significant, but compared to an air force that constantly bombards the Gaza Strip and an army that invades a neighboring country every couple of years, it is the odd man out publicity-wise. These chances to play pirate on the high seas may play well in the Israeli press, but having its naval might attacking unarmed aid vessels must inevitably end in tragedy.