By: Morton A. Klein
June 4, 2010
ZOA Calls For Investigation Of Turkey For Permitting A Ship With Armed Extremists To Break Israel’s Legal Blockade
NY Post’s Colonel Peters calls for Turkey probe
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has renewed its call for an investigation of Turkey for permitting a flotilla of armed and violent extremists to sail in an attempt to breach the lawful Israeli blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Such a call, which ZOA made on June 1, has also been made since by New York Post columnist, Ralph Peters, who wrote, “Nobody’s asked for a study of Turkish involvement. But if the National Security Council won’t do it, I will. In underwriting a terrorist-linked Turkish NGO’s mission to Gaza, the Turks had a strategic goal and a domestic goal” of making a bid for Muslim world leadership by championing the Palestinian cause and a domestic one creating a diplomatic incident that would permit him to cancel upcoming Israeli-Turkish military exercises (‘DC’s Turkish denial,’ New York Post, June 3, 2010).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Turkey’s responsibility is three-fold:
1. It was a Turkish Islamist group, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (Islan Haklary Ve Hurriyetleri Vakfi – IHH) which played a major part in assisting the terrorists on board the Mavi Mamara, the one ship in the six ship flotilla that refused to comply with the blockade and deliberately and with careful pre-planning initiated violence against the Israeli boarding party. The IHH is not a peaceable, charitable institution – it is a Muslim Brotherhood-connected, Islamist organization, with a history of assisting Islamist terrorists.
The IHH was outlawed by Israel in 2008 for involvement in Hamas’ global fund-raising machinery. The IHH has been described by French former senior counter-terrorism official investigating judge Jean-Louis, who investigated the organization in the 1990s, as having “clear, long-standing ties to terrorism and Jihad.” The IHH has been similarly involved in assisting violent Islamist groups in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. In 2006, the Danish Institute for International Studies demonstrated the IHH’s connections to al-Qaeda. The IHH belongs to a Saudi-based umbrella organization called the Union of Good (Ittilaf al-Kheir in Arabic), chaired by Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who is known best for his religious ruling that condones suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. In November 2008, the U.S. Treasury designated the Union’s leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) “created by Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization.”
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 of September 2001 criminalized the provision and collection of funds by states and their nationals for the purposes of terrorist activities or for aiding other terrorists. It also demanded the freezing of funds and assets of people and groups seeking to commit terrorist acts or aid other terrorists. And it also prohibited countries from permitting their nationals and organizations within their territory making funds available for these activities. This being the case, why hasn’t Turkey closed down the IHH? And why has not the Obama Administration insisted of Turkey, which is supposed to be a U.S. ally, that it does so?
2. The Gaza flotilla was a Turkish-based exercise which set sail under the Turkish flag. As such, Turkey is responsible for having aided or at least permitted an unlawful attempt to break a legal blockade. Article 19 of the Law of the Sea Treaty specifies that “any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defense or security of the coastal state” or “the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws or regulations of the coastal state” are deemed “prejudicial to the peace, good order or security” of that state. The Gaza flotilla, planned, supplied and activated from Turkey, with full knowledge of the Turkish authorities, planned to do just that.
Moreover, the attempt to break the blockade was made by supporters of Hamas, whose Charter calls the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7) and which has murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians in scores of suicide bombings, hundreds of drive-by shootings, thousands of rocket attacks and other terrorist deeds. Hamas is an internationally recognized terrorist organization, listed as such by both the U.S. and the European Union Why then, has Turkey not been held accountable for aiding such a terrorist group?
Blockades are a time-honored, legal measure of warfare in which one country seeks to prevent weapons and war materials reaching the territory of another, by policing the high seas and preventing ships bearing such cargo entering territorial waters. Such legal blockades have been imposed many times, for example, by the U.S. on Cuba in 1962 and by the British on Argentina during the 1982 Falklands war.
3. Prior to the sailing of the Gaza flotilla, the Turkish government wrongly assured that the flotilla cargo had been duly inspected and found to consist purely of humanitarian supplies and included no weapons. In fact, the Turkish government continues to make that claim after the event. Such flat-earth statements have no credibility now – the violence of the Hamas supporters on board the Mavi Mamara included the use of knives, axes, firebombs and metal rods, as well as the seizing and using of Israeli personnel’s side-arms, lead to clashes and exchanges of fire. Additionally, the Hamas supporters on the flotilla bore no passports or other means of identification; carried millions of Euros with them, suggesting that at least some may have been mercenaries; and the nine killed were not civilians but combatants who initiated violence against the Israeli boarding party. Reports indicate that at least some of the Hamas supporters on board were armed with guns which they threw over the ship’s side before surrendering. Bullet casings belonging to non-Israeli guns were found on board the ship, indicating the use of foreign firearms by the Hamas supporters on board.
“In short, there should be a credible and impartial investigation of Turkey, the country in which the organization assisting Islamist terrorists and responsible for the flotilla is based; from which the flotilla set sail; and whose government wrongly assured that the flotilla cargo had been duly inspected and found to consist purely of humanitarian supplies and included no weapons.
“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, instead of acknowledging Turkish responsibility, has preferred to condemn Israel, demand that Israel be punished and called the Israeli operation a “bloody massacre.” However, to call the deaths of the nine Hamas supporters on board a “bloody massacre” when shooting did not occur until after half an hour after Israeli personnel boarded the vessel and were assaulted by Hamas supporters is obviously obscene and absurd. It was only when the lives of Israeli personnel were in serious jeopardy that the Israelis began to defend themselves. If those on board had not brutally assaulted the Israeli soldiers, not one Israeli shot would have been fired and no one would have been harmed.
“As the United Nations organs are dominated by tyrannies and other states hostile to both Israel and democracy in general, a credible, impartial investigation should document these and other pertinent facts.”