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I write to draw your attention to an issue that could affect the stability of our region. As I write this letter, a group of activists is moving forward with plans to challenge Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Their ship set sail from Sweden over the summer — and reports indicate that it will arrive in the vicinity of Gaza within a week.
Israel’s naval blockade is a necessary and legitimate security measure. Its only purpose is to stem the flood of arms into Gaza, where terrorists continue to fire rockets into Israeli communities day and night. The Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry affirmed in its July 2011 report that Israel’s naval blockade “was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea, and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law”.
There is no need for this flotilla. There is not a single civilian good that cannot enter Gaza. Numerous mechanisms have been established through which humanitarian assistance can be delivered to the Gaza Strip, which the United Nations and other international actors use on a daily basis to transfer goods.
The rap sheets of the passengers on board this ship make clear that they are driven by radical and extremist agendas. For instance, Johan Galtung — the leader of this provocation — was recently suspended from the Swiss World Peace Academy for making a series of public anti-Semitic rants.
Instead of delivering much-needed goods to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the broken moral compass of these self-proclaimed human rights activists has steered them to Gaza. Even without access to today’s GPS systems, the medieval Vikings had a far better sense of direction.
Israel has become the luxury destination of choice — the Middle East’s Club Med — for this special type of self-proclaimed “human rights” activist. They know that vacation packages to Israel are deluxe for “weekend revolutionaries” — free from the dangers of arbitrary arrest, imprisonment and execution, which abound in the totalitarian States that make up the rest of our region. They understand that it is much easier to face news cameras in Tel Aviv than bullets in Damascus.
The actions of these activists are particularly troubling in the light of the present turmoil in the Middle East. Their clear provocation raises tensions and could easily spark a serious escalation of conflict.
I call on the Secretary-General, the Security Council and all responsible members of the international community to take immediate action to end this provocation.
The international community must send an unambiguous message to the organizers of these provocations that such initiatives are destructive and counterproductive, calling on all those truly interested in transferring humanitarian goods to Gaza to use established mechanisms.
I want to stress that Israel is not interested in confrontation, but remains determined to enforce its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip — and will take all lawful actions to this end.
I should be grateful if you would have the present letter distributed as a document of the Security Council.