International NGOs and the Second Gaza Flotilla: Links to Terror, No Humanitarian Purpose
May 08, 2011
On May 31, 2010, in violation of international law, six ships attempted to reach Gaza by sea and were intercepted by Israeli security forces. Flotilla passengers met Israeli forces with violence and several caches of weapons were found on board.
Politicized NGOs with connections to terrorist groups are planning a second flotilla to commemorate the 2010 incident.
Major organizers include Turkey-based IHH, a group linked to Al Qaeda and Hamas; IHH is listed by several Western governments as a terrorist entity.
The international community – including the EU and the US – is legally bound by UN Security Council Resolution 13731, which imposes barriers on the movement, organization, and fund-raising activities of terrorist groups.
Flotilla coordinators International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) are known for encouraging their activists to confront Israeli security forces and inflammatory anti-Israel rhetoric.
Several EU-funded NGOs – including the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD), the Alternative Information Center (AIC), and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – are organizing and endorsing flotilla efforts.
Organizers are using the pretext of a humanitarian mission to provoke a military confrontation in an already inflamed region.
International Law Background
The international community – including the EU and the US – is legally bound by UN Security Council Resolution 1373, passed unanimously following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The resolution imposes barriers on the movement, organization, and fund-raising activities of terrorist groups. Member states must “prohibit their nationals or any persons and entities within their territories from making any funds, financial assets or economic resources or financial or other related services available” for terrorist activities, and must also “prevent those who finance, plan, facilitate or commit terrorist acts from using their respective territories for those purposes against other States or their citizens.”
In April 2011, the Dutch government added flotilla organizer IHH to its list of terror groups, and the organization is banned in Germany and Israel. IHH is part of the Union for Good umbrella group, which the US Treasury Department designates as a terrorist organization.
IHH has strong connections to Al Qaeda and Hamas, listed as terrorist organizations by the EU, the US, the UK, Canada, and many other countries.
In March 2010, Israeli security forces intercepted approximately 50 tons of weapons on a ship bound for Gaza, underscoring Hamas’ efforts to receive weapons via sea routes.
Humanitarian aid can reach Gaza through multiple routes. The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been open since June 2010. In late April 2011, the Egyptian foreign minister declared Egypt would permanently open the border crossing. Additionally, Israel has agreed to deliver any humanitarian aid to Gaza after an inspection at the border. Therefore, the humanitarian justification for these flotillas is invalid.
Turkey-based Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH) is planning a Second Gaza Flotilla as a follow-up to the violence of May 31, 2010.
In an April 2011 interview, IHH president Bülent Yildirim said: “We are not afraid to die as shaheeds2.” He also stated: “…we do have a problem with one place, and we declare it boldly, without fear, and without hesitation: Our problem is Zionism, which has infected all of humanity like a virus.”
IHH is a member of the Union of the Good, an umbrella group of 50+ Islamic organizations established as a funding conduit by the Hamas leadership3. During heightened terrorist activity in 2002, the Union of the Good transferred money, via Hamas charities, to families of suicide bombers.
Turkish authorities investigated IHH in 1997 after receiving information that senior members had purchased weapons from Islamic radicals. A raid on the organization’s bureau turned up weapons, explosives, and instructions for making IEDs4.
French counter-terrorism magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere testified that IHH maintained contact with Al Qaeda in Milan and Algerian terrorists in Europe; recruited militants for fighting in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan; and played a “central role” in the Al Qaeda bomb plot targeting LAX airport.
In an interview conducted after the first flotilla (2010), Demet Tezcan of IHH stated: “The [Israelis] are paranoid cowards, who definitely have a sick mentality. That’s why we have to put an end to this.”
IHH demonstrated in Istanbul on May 8, 2011, against Israel’s participation in the 4th UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC). One IHH leader stated: “The Zionist state of Israel, which has filled the world with bloodshed for the sake of its interests all around the world, is the chief party responsible for poverty and tears in the world.”
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) was a leading organizer of the May 2010 flotilla and is continuing its leadership role for the Second Gaza Flotilla.
Describes itself as “a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using non-violent, direct-action methods and principles.”
Encourages activists to take “direct action” that often places them in danger by provoking violent confrontations with Israeli Defense Forces.
In a 2002 article, ISM co-founders Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf wrote: “The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent. Yes, people will get killed and injured,” but these deaths are “no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation. And we are certain that if these men were killed during such an action, they would be considered shaheed Allah.”5
ISM has been responsible for endangering the safety of many foreign nationals, including American citizen Rachel Corrie, UK citizen Tom Hurndall, and Italian citizen Vittorio Arrigoni. All were killed while participating in ISM activities.
ISM is recruiting activists for the Second Gaza Flotilla, favoring those activists who already participated in flotillas and were “detained and deported by Israel.”
ISM is encouraging “non-violent” activities onboard the ship, however the group is known for tactics to provoke the Israeli security forces.6 They have adopted the following tactics for the Second Gaza Flotilla: “Refusing deportation until a set of conditions is met” and “extreme non-violent non-cooperation during captivity.”
Admitted that the first flotilla was not humanitarian, but rather political.
Board of Advisors includes M. Cherif Bassiouni, as well as anti-Israel ideologues James Abourezk, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, and Baroness Jenny Tonge.
Co-coordinator Caoimhe Butterly spent 16 days in April 2002 as a “human shield” in Yasser Arafat’s compound and encourages “resistance” activities. Board of Directors member Greta Berlin is a Hamas supporter and made false statements alleging Israeli violence to the media in the wake of the May 2010 flotilla.
Mary Hughes Thompson, co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement, wrote: “God bless you Vittorio. Your star will shine long after Zionist Israel is no more.”
Free Gaza Movement relies on fundraising efforts from its many affiliate groups. The website and the websites of their affiliates encourage individual supporters to donate via PayPal.
The American Educational Trust (AET), publishers of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, agreed to serve as Free Gaza’s fiscal sponsor in the United States, enabling tax-deductible donations.
Free Gaza has chapters in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Norway, Palestinian Authority and Gaza, Poland, Scotland, Spain, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
It has released a “Nonviolent Covenant” for the 2011 Flotilla.
EU-funded NGO Endorsers of the Second Gaza Flotilla:
Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions (ICAHD), is on the Free Gaza Movement’s Board of Advisors and is an organizer of a Canadian boat set to take part in the second flotilla. ICAHD is funded by the EU, Spain, and the governments of the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland via the NGO Development Center.
Eyad Sarraj, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme is also on the Free Gaza Movement Board of Advisors. During the June 2009 Goldstone mission hearings in Gaza, Sarraj made antisemitic remarks: “Israeli soldier has the image of absolute superiority . . . and he uses it without thinking of humanity at all . . . inside Israel there is an identification with the aggressor, the Nazis.”
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), funded by the European Union and the governments of Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway; NGO Development Center (NDC – governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark). Private organizations providing funding include: Ford Foundation (USA), International Commission of Jurists (Sweden), Open Society Foundations (OSI – US), Christian Aid (UK), Grassroots International (US), Kvina Till Kvina (Sweden), Al-Quds Association Malaga (Spain), Oxfam Novib (the Netherlands),Trocaire (Ireland), DanChurchAid (Denmark), and the Welfare Association.
Jewish Voice for Peace is a tax-exempt registered 501(c)(3) organization, though its funding is not transparent.
Pax Christi U.K. (funding not transparent)
Yesh Gevul (funding not transparent)
Zochrot, funders in 2009 include ICCO (the Netherlands), Oxfam Great Britain, Oxfam Belgium, and Trocaire (Ireland).
Expressions of Violence and Antisemitism Surrounding May 2010 Flotilla:8
An Algerian delegate stated: “I took an oath that if they [Israel] stamped my passport, I would rip it up and leave without a passport. Our hatred for these people is so intense that we wished, at those moments, that we could have been bombs, and blow up among those brothers of apes and pigs.”
After refusing calls to divert to the port of Ashdod, passengers onboard the Mavi Marmara violently attacked Israeli soldiers with metal rods, slingshots, knives, live bullets, and stun grenades.
As noted, the Union of Good has been designated by the United States. As a result of this designation, any assets the Union of Good holds under US jurisdiction are frozen, and US persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with the group.
“Whitewashing ISM,” CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), Sept. 1, 2004.
ISM activists have been documented throwing Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers and hurtling burning tires at the security barrier. Photographs available at Activestills.org flickr feed.
It partners with the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH), the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, the International Committee to End the Siege on Gaza, Ship to Gaza Sweden, and Ship to Gaza Greece, http://www.freegaza.org/