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June 10 th , 2010. Operation Sea Breeze Summary and Background May 31 st – June 5 th. Table of Contents. 2. 3. 1. Strategic Context. Flotilla Background. Flotilla Participants. State of Armed Conflict. General. The IHH. The Naval Blockade. Blockade Enforcement . IHH and Turkey.

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June 10th, 2010

Operation Sea Breeze

Summary and Background

May 31st – June 5th


Table of Contents




Strategic Context

Flotilla Background

Flotilla Participants

State of Armed Conflict



The Naval Blockade

Blockade Enforcement

IHH and Turkey

Humanitarian Status: Gaza

Diplomatic Efforts

Other Terrorist Links

Hamas & Humanitarian Aid

Participating Boats




The Aftermath

Intercepting the Boats

Materials Onboard

Interception to Repatriation

IDF Investigation

The Rachel Corrie

the broader context
The Broader Context







Operation Cast Lead

Increased deterrence

Hamas Coup

State of Calm

PA Elections

Shalit Kidnapped

Unilateral Disengagement

Rockets and Mortars

Terrorist Activity in 2010 (As of June 7th)

Military Buildup

Light Arms Attacks




Jan.-Jun. 2010

56 Rockets

33 Mortar Shells

Anti-Tank Fire




Refusal of International Community Conditions:

  • Cessation of hostile terrorist activity against Israel
  • Recognition of agreements between Israel and the PA
  • Recognition of the State of Israel’s right to exist
the naval blockade on gaza
The Naval Blockade on Gaza

Israel enforces certain restrictions aimed at ensuring its security, by preventing Hamas military buildup. This is subject to ongoing scrutiny by the Supreme Court.

Under International Law, naval blockades is a legitimate mean in armed conflicts. Its use requires the fulfillment of a number of conditions:


The date the blockade begins, the duration and location must be notified to every affected country. [Israel began the blockade on 03/01/09]


A State that declares a naval blockade must enforce it in practice


Blockades must be applied impartially to vessels of all States

The goal of the blockade must not be to punish the population or refuse supplies vital for its survival.



The damage to the population must not exceed the military advantage.

Neutral Access

A naval blockade must not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral States

humanitarian status in gaza
Humanitarian Status in Gaza

Weekly Transfers (30/5-5/6)

In coordination with the PA and NGOs, supplies and goods are transferred on a daily basis to the Gaza Strip, extending beyond the requirements of international law. Israel continues to assist in ensuring that basic water and infrastructure requirements in Gaza exist, allowing equipment transfers when necessary.

Trucks: 484

Tons: 12,413

Medical Evacs: 373

Fuel: 1.08 million liters

Transfers in 2009

Trucks: 30,920

Tons: 738,576

Medical Evacs: 10,544

NGO Personnel: 21,200

Pictures of a Gaza Market (2009)

hamas and humanitarian aid
Hamas and Humanitarian Aid

Hamas seeks to create an illusion of a humanitarian crisis within the Gaza Strip. This relies largely on preventing the entry or distribution of aid and exploitation of the aid for its own purposes, achieving political and military gains at the expense of Gaza residents.

Recent Examples

While the Hamas charges Gaza residents for electricity, it has refused to transfer the money to the PA for fuel, leading to a Hamas instigated reduction in transfer.

Using Molotov cocktails, radical elements in Gaza set fire to a UNRWA camp (23/5,10), apparently due to the non-religious agenda of the camp.

Pictures of the Burnt UNRWA Children’s Camp

In mid-May 2010, the Hamas razed dozens of homes within the Gaza Strip, beating civilians who refused to leave them.

In early June 2010, Hamas forces raided and shut down numerous NGO charities in the Gaza Strip. UN officials expressed concern.

flotilla background
Flotilla Background

On April 28th, a number of organizations, led by the Turkish-based IHH, announced that they intended to sail a flotilla to the Gaza Strip coast to breach the naval blockade imposed in January, 2009.

The flotilla aimed to reach Gaza with approximately 10 ships, departing from south of Cyprus on May 24th.

This was the 3rd flotilla since the blockade was imposed. Two flotillas attempting to breach the blockade since have been stopped. Humanitarian supplies aboard transferred to Gaza by the land crossings.

The option of transferring supplies via the land crossings was conveyed, even suggesting that the organizers oversee the transfer. This was declined by the organizers, who declared that the purpose of the flotilla wasto breach the blockade. Israel unequivocally conveyed that ships would not be permitted to breach the blockade.

enforcing naval blockades
Enforcing Naval Blockades

Attempted Breaching of the Blockade

The entry of a vessel into a blockaded area without permission constitutes a breach of a naval blockade. According to International Law, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a vessel has breached the blockade, it may be captured. If the vessel refuses to stop, use of force is permissible.

Moreover, a vessel may be captured when attempting to breach a naval blockade if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel intends to breach it, even before the vessel reaches the blockaded area. In such a case, the capture must take place outside of territorial waters of neutral states.

Attempted breach of blockade occurs from the time a vessel or aircraft leaves a port or airfield with the intention of evading the blockade…

The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, US Navy

diplomatic efforts to avoid the use of force
Diplomatic Efforts to Avoid the Use of Force

Prior to the operation, a multi-pronged diplomatic effort was made in to prevent the flotilla from attempting to breach the naval blockade:

MFA and Others

Israeli Defense Forces

Meeting between Navy Planning and Organization Department and relevant foreign attachés

Messages conveyed to relevant countries.

Meetings on working levels and higher in relevant countries

Personal meeting between Navy Commander in Chief and relevant attachés

Message conveyed to flotilla organizers

Written messages conveyed to all foreign delegates in Israel

Letter from Navy CoC sent to relevant naval CoCs.

Reiteration of blockade

Messages prior to interception and boarding

Offer to transfer humanitarian supplies through Ashdod

Warning that necessary measures would be taken if course unchanged

Warning that ship would be boarded barring change


Participating Boats


Mavi Marmara


Challenger 1


Max. Speed

15 knots

13 knots

20 knots

15 knots

Unknown (Hoisted US flag)










Defne Y


Rachel Corrie


13 knots

12.5 knots

12.5 knots

Max. Speed










The IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfi) is a radical Islamic organization established in 1992, formally registered in Istanbul (1995) and led by Bulent Yildrim. While its activities include legitimate humanitarian activity, it also includes the support of radical Islamic terrorist organizations:


The IHH openly supports the Hamas, as a member of the Union of Good (UoG), which supports Hamas institutes in the PA. UoG was defined a terrorist entity by the US government in 2008.


In 2006, a Danish research group showed IHH involvement in recruitment, the purchase of weapons and the planning of attacks for al-Qaeda.

Global Jihad

IHH has links with the GJ in the Middle East, as well as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya. A CIA report (1996) exposed the IHH’s connection with extremist groups. It also provided aid to a terrorist planning an attack in the US (2000)

IHH provided 40 core activists, three boats, including the Mavi Marmara, as well as aid to the Hamas regime in preparing to receive the flotilla. Bulent Yildrim also admitted to having children and elderly on board as a deliberate human shields (30 May)

the ihh and turkey
The IHH and Turkey

Core group of 40 IHH activists on Mavi Marmara

Turkey and the IHH

Boarded without security inspection in Istanbul

Elements in the Turkish government continue to defend and praise the IHH, despite the organization’s terrorist affiliations and the blatant, organized attack on Israeli soldiers.

Hierarchy based on regional coordinators. Wore security badges during journey and carried radio communication devices

Top deck restricted to IHH access alone

Turkey refused to nine separate Israeli requests to provide security oversight over the ships’ loading, unlike other countries which provided oversight.

Conducted instructional briefing regarding resistance during the boarding process.

The Mavi Marmara contained passengers alone, no humanitarian aid.

The Mavi Marmara was acquired from a Turkish company (IDO), created in 1987 by the Istanbul municipality.

Gas masks and Turkish military vests used by IHH activists

Interviews with passengers aboard reveal that the Turkish government aided the flotilla prior to its departure.

other terrorist links
Other Terrorist Links

While internal investigations continue, it is becoming more and more evident that individuals affiliated with terrorist groups were aboard the boat:

Armed Groups

A large number of passengers involved in the extreme violence were found without any identification papers and with large thousands of Euros in envelopes, indicating that they may be mercenaries, or people wanted for unlawful activity, therefore hiding their identity.


  • Specific passengers with known terror involvement:
  • Fatimah Mahdami – Iranian-born US resident caught smuggling into the Gaza Strip and an active member of Viva Palestine
  • Ken O’Keefe –Irish/US citizen; operative in the Hamas organization; has attempted to enter Gaza to form a commando unit
  • Hassan Iynasi – Turkish citizen; supported the Islamic Jihad financially
  • Hussein Urosh – Turkish citizen who sought to smuggle Al-Qaeda operatives into the Gaza Strip
  • Ahmed Umimon – French citizen of Moroccan origin; Hamas operative
interception of the ships
Interception of the Ships

On 31 May, at 0428, after numerous warnings were given to ships approaching the Gaza Strip, clarifying that entrance to the blockaded area would not be allowed, the six ships were boarded.

Mavi Marmara


Boarding Preparation

Soldiers boarding the boats were instructed personally by the Chief of the Navy to use the minimal amount of force necessary, as befits operations involving civilians. They were equipped with paintball guns, beanbag ammunition, tasers and stun grenades, as well as pistols to be used when facing a clear and immediate threat to life.










Defne Y


Despite some resistance from passengers on five boats (excluding the Mavi Marmara), no injuries or casualties were sustained. The boats were brought to Ashdod port without extraordinary incidents.

violence on the mavi marmara
Violence on the ‘Mavi Marmara’

Soldiers upon the Mavi Marmara encountered organized, life-threatening violence. Troops limited fire to aggressors alone, after non-lethal force failed to prove effective. All casualties resulted from attacks immediately threatening the life of Israeli soldiers.

Calls on the boat directed non-IHH members (including 16 parliament members & 34 journalists) below deck prior to the IDF boarding. Weapons were prepared and IHH members split into squads for the violent confrontation.

IHH Violence Upon Boarding

Soldiers were fired upon, thrown off the top deck, abducted, stabbed and attacked with metal rods, slingshots, and other weapons. Soldiers were forced to respond with force in self-defense.

7 IDF Wounded

(2 critical)

9 IHH casualties

34 wounded


We will definitely resist and we will not allow the Israelis to enter here… if Israel wants to board the ship, it will meet strong resistance.

Bulent Yildrim, Head of the IHH

May 30th, 2010


There were guys who they threw off the top deck, and who were stripped of their gear. They jumped into the sea as a last resort …

Testimony of one of the Navy commandos on the ‘Mavi Marmara’

ihh preparation for boarding
IHH Preparation for Boarding

Metal rods




Kevlar boards


Military vests


Electric saws


Large tools


Gas Masks





Every person who came down the ropes, was grabbed by three or four people and violently assaulted. We were lynched. They had metal rods, knives, slingshots, and glass bottles. At some point, live fire was shot at two of our soldiers.

Testimony of one of the Navy commandos on the ‘Mavi Marmara’

interception until repatriation
Interception until Repatriation

Injured passengers were evacuated by helicopter to five hospitals in Israel

June 1st

Two Egyptians returned to Egypt


Approximately 120 transferred to Jordan as final destination and as transfer point

Hadassah Ein Karem

Tel Hashomer

June 2nd


Four Lebanese residents returned via Rosh HaNikra crossing


Procedure Once in Port

June 3rd

With the exception of 7 injured passengers and 3 others, all passengers returned to Turkey via 3 airplanes and 3 ambulance airplanes

In Ashdod Port, passengers were given medical examinations and screened for security purposes. Passengers who agreed to sign deportation notices were brought to Ben Gurion Airport for immediate repatriation. Those who refused were detained until deportation procedures were completed.

June 6th

One returned on flight to Turkey

the linda rachel corrie
The ‘Linda’ (Rachel Corrie)

Interception || July 5th

The Rachel Corrie arrived in the region on July 5th and, after ignoring calls to avert its course, was boarded by IDF forces. The boarding was done calmly and peacefully. All 19 passengers were brought to Ashdod port, where they underwent medical examinations and security screening.

Repatriation || July 6th

On July 6th, 8 of the passengers were transferred to Jordan via Allenby crossing. The remaining passengers were transferred to Turkey by airplane.

The perceptible difference between the behavior of the activists upon the ‘Linda’, as well as the other five ships, when compared to the hostile aggression from the passengers of the Mavi Marmara, reflect upon the nature of the “peace activists” aboard each of the ships.

materials aboard the ships
Materials Aboard the Ships

Materials Aboard the Ships

After passengers disembarked, the supplies were unloaded and transferred to some 80 trucks, sent to pass through the land crossings at Kerem Shalom. The supplies included medical equipment (including expired medicine), clothing and children’s toys. Material requiring refrigeration are in IDF storage units.

However, large portions of the aid were rendered useless by poor packaging upon the boat. In addition, much of the materials did not match the standard definition of humanitarian aid. Camouflage fabric intended to be transferred was found on board. Much of the clothing is old and not wearable and medical equipment was not transferred in a sterile manner.

Transferring the Materials

Hamas has refused to accept the materials, threatening those who do try to transfer them. The materials remain at Kerem Shalom crossing.

The routine, daily shipments of supplies continue – in the past week, 484 trucks (including two with concrete) were transferred.

idf investigation
IDF Investigation

Field investigations within the navy are currently taking place.

In addition, the Chief of the General Staff has appointed a professional inquiry team, led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland to examine the flotilla operation and establish lessons. The team is to present the findings no later than July 4th. Consisting of professionals who are experts in the field, the investigative team was not part of the chain of command, allowing impartial investigation.

Model of IDF Investigations

Criminal misconduct

Command investigation

Criminal investigation

Supreme Court oversight


MAG oversight

Credible allegation or non-operational incident