The Finnish-registered Estelle, whose passengers and crew included activists and members of parliament from Greece, Sweden, the US, Canada, Norway and Israel, was intercepted by the IDF on Saturday and brought to Ashdod port after attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
In a video accompanying its online coverage of the story, Sky News gives a platform to a spokeswoman for the organization that sent the ship. She claims, unchallenged:
The blockade is illegal, it’s not accepted by the international community
She also claims that the blockade has nothing to do with Israel’s security. This despite the fact that rockets continue to be fired from Gaza on to Israeli towns and cities and despite the fact that Gaza is ruled by the Hamas terrorist organization.
As for the claim that the Israeli blockade is illegal, this is patently not the case. The UN Secretary General himself created a panel of inquiry to examine the events surrounding the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident. The subsequent 2011 report by the Palmer Commission concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and Israel has the right to enforce the blockade, including in international waters.
This isn’t the first time that Sky News has ignored this piece of vital information when reporting on both this and the Mavi Marmara.
While Sky’s Colin Brazier questions why the IDF would seek to prevent “harmless” cargo, in this case reportedly two olive trees, 41 tons of cement, books, toys and medical equipment, from reaching Gaza, there is no mention of the potential dual usage for both cement and certain medical equipment that could be misappropriated by Hamas.
Also unmentioned is the fact that any humanitarian aid will be delivered to Gaza overland once it has been checked at Ashdod by the Israeli authorities. But, as the IDF has pointed out, no humanitarian aid has been found on board. Could it be that the Estelle is carrying non-humanitarian goods precisely because there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza?
Indeed, Sky’s interviewee clearly states that the Estelle’s mission is one of “solidarity” with the Palestinians of Gaza. The Estelle is not an aid ship and is meant only to provoke and create a media event. Unfortunately, the media have once again chosen to focus on a non-story, perhaps in the vague hope that it will end with another Mavi Marmara incident.
Lacking such compelling action, the media was, instead, forced to rely upon unsubstantiated claims of violence.
According to the IDF, after boarding the vessel by IDF soldiers, who did not need to use force, the passengers were attended to and offered food and beverages.
Perhaps so many of the media might have reconsidered the credibility of Stockholm-based Victoria Strand, who, despite not being on board the Estelle, told AFP that the ship was “under attack.” When this was shown not to be the case, Strand’s comments were edited down to state that the IDF’s actions were a “demonstration of ruthlessness.”
Ultimately, the activists’ motivations were summed up by Israeli PM Netanyahu who said:
Even the passengers of the ship know there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but rather their goal is to create a provocation and muddy Israel’s name. … If human rights were really important to them, they would sail to Syria.
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Image: CC BY-SA HonestReporting.com, flickr/Sam Lavy, flickr/Benn Wolfe.