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.

Major Organizers of the 2011 Flotilla

Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH):

  • 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.”

International Solidarity Movement (ISM):

  • 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.”
  • In 2006 and 2007, $55,856.20 was transferred to ISM through the A.J. Muste Institute, ISM’s “fiscal sponsorMiddle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is another conduit for the organization to receive 501(c)(3) tax deductible donations in the US.

Free Gaza Movement:

  • The Free Gaza Movement (founded by ISM activists, including Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro) leads a coalition of groups that has sent nine sea delegations to Gaza since 2008.7
  • Refers to Israel as “Palestine.”
  • 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.”
  • The Alternative Information Center (AIC), funders include Diakonia (Sweden), ICCO (the Netherlands).
  • Sabeel, funded by Diakonia (Sweden)
  • Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP), funded by Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany, and formerly funded by New Israel Fund (NIF).
  • 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.
  • The May 2010 flotilla contained little humanitarian aid.  Instead, expired medications, broken medical equipment, camouflage material (intended for Hamas uniforms), and several caches of weapons were found.
  • Before setting sail in 2010, flotilla organizers declined several requests to unload cargo at the port of Ashdod to be delivered to Gaza; organizers have refused the same request in 2011.
  • Of the nine operatives who died during the violence, eight belonged to Islamist organizations and seven announced before the event that they desired to be shaheeds.
  • Hamas refused delivery of 21 truckloads of goods unloaded from the May 2010 flotilla.

International Reactions to 2011 Flotilla:

  • Donor states9 to the Palestinian Authority condemned flotillas to Gaza and called on parties to use land terminals to avoid provocation.
  • US Ambassador Susan Rice stated: “There are distinct mechanisms to deliver goods to Gaza and there are no justifications to sail directly to Gaza.”
  • German Ambassador Peter Witting called on the organizations involved “to find other ways to deliver aid to the people of Gaza.”
  • In a letter to parliament, the Dutch foreign minister called on Dutch NGOs not to join the flotilla.
  • Mathilde Redmant, the deputy director of the Red Cross in Gaza: “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”