This month, the Canadian Boat to Gaza joined a flotilla of vessels from other countries headed for the Gaza Strip – with the aim of breaching the Israeli arms blockade of the territory. In examining this issue, it is important to consider the following points.
1. The organizers of the Canadian Boat to Gaza have stated that their motives are political and not humanitarian. As the Edmonton Journal reported on May 30th, Canadian activist David Heap "said the mission is actually less about aid and more about politics" – confirming that the underlying goal is to stage a manipulative publicity stunt. Many of the groups supporting the Canadian Boat openly oppose the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, and advocate for boycott-divestment-sanction measures against Israel. The flotilla is just one more activity in a broader campaign designed to isolate and harm Israel, rather than support reconciliation and peace between the two sides.
2. The Canadian government has joined an international consensus that has developed against the flotilla. Among those who have called on activists to avoid joining the flotilla and use designated aid channels through Israel and Egypt are the UN, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain.
3. Israel delivers massive quantities of aid into Gaza on an ongoing basis – and is willing to transfer humanitarian aid from the flotilla after it has been inspected. In May of 2011 alone, this amounted to 127,353 tons in supplies – some 4,942 truckloads in total. Just this week, Israel approved $100 Million in construction projects in Gaza, including 1,200 new homes and 18 schools.
4. Hamas, a banned terrorist entity in Canada, controls Gaza and continues to violently target Israeli civilians. Hamas launched thousands of missiles at Israeli towns since Israel left Gaza in 2005. Just this past April, Hamas fired an advanced, Syrian-made anti-tank missile across the border at an Israeli school bus, killing 16-year-old Daniel Viflic. Today, one million Israelis live within range of Hamas' missiles.
5. Hamas continues to smuggle large amounts of advanced weapons into Gaza. As only one example, Israel peacefully seized 50 tons of weapons found aboard the vessel Victoria, en route to Gaza in March. The purpose of the arms blockade is to prevent Hamas from obtaining more advanced and deadlier weaponry from Iran and Syria that could escalate the conflict.
6. Hamas seeks the destruction of the state of Israel and opposes all peace negotiations. It believes all of Israel has been founded upon sacred Islamic land that cannot be shared with a non-Muslim government. Hamas harbours extremist beliefs – having mourned the death of Osama Bin Laden in May, declaring him to be an "Arab holy warrior."
7. The Israeli arms blockade of Gaza is entirely legal, given the continued state of war with Hamas. An arms blockade remains legal as long as humanitarian aid is transferred into the territory – a policy that Israel has long upheld (after it inspects cargo).
8. Although there are economic difficulties living under Hamas rule, there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The Red Cross has stated that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and even Hamas has admitted that "there is no starvation in Gaza". This is confirmed by quality of life indicators (life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy rates, etc.), which all demonstrate that Gaza ranks on par with and sometimes higher than other parts of the Arab-Muslim world. In fact, research shows that far less attention and resources are provided to urgent humanitarian crises elsewhere in the world.