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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Operation Sea Breeze
Summary and Background
May 31st – June 5th
State of Armed Conflict
The Naval Blockade
IHH and Turkey
Humanitarian Status: Gaza
Other Terrorist Links
Hamas & Humanitarian Aid
Intercepting the Boats
Interception to Repatriation
The Rachel Corrie
Operation Cast Lead
State of Calm
Rockets and Mortars
Terrorist Activity in 2010 (As of June 7th)
Light Arms Attacks
33 Mortar Shells
Refusal of International Community Conditions:
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.
A naval blockade must not bar access to the ports and coasts of neutral States
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.
Medical Evacs: 373
Fuel: 1.08 million liters
Transfers in 2009
Medical Evacs: 10,544
NGO Personnel: 21,200
Pictures of a Gaza Market (2009)
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Unknown (Hoisted US flag)
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.
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)
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.
While internal investigations continue, it is becoming more and more evident that individuals affiliated with terrorist groups were aboard the boat:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
9 IHH casualties
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’
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’
Injured passengers were evacuated by helicopter to five hospitals in Israel
Two Egyptians returned to Egypt
Approximately 120 transferred to Jordan as final destination and as transfer point
Hadassah Ein Karem
Four Lebanese residents returned via Rosh HaNikra crossing
Procedure Once in Port
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.
One returned on flight to Turkey
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
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.
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
Supreme Court oversight
Credible allegation or non-operational incident