In an interview with Fox News, the Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, told viewers that he believed that his government’s raid on an unarmed aid ship in international waters Monday was ‘perfectly legal, perfectly humane – and very responsible.’Oren defended the military assault, which resulted in at least 9 deaths and 60 injuries, saying ‘Israel acted in accord with international law. Any state has the right to protect itself, certainly from a terrorist threat such as Hamas, including on the open seas.”
He continued, ‘The US acted under similar international law when it fought the Germans and the Japanese in World War Two.’
His statement came in the midst of a barrage of world criticism over the Israeli attack on the unarmed ships, which were loaded with thousands of tons of humanitarian aid, including toys, crayons, schoolbooks, medical equipment and building supplies. The aid shipment was non-partisan, and aid workers made it clear that all aid would be distributed equitably to civilians in Gaza – not to any one political party, including the democratically-elected Hamas party which Israel considers a ‘terrorist’ group.
Although Israeli officials claimed that some of the aid would be allowed through, the vast majority of these items are on the Israeli list of ‘banned’ items, and will not be allowed to enter the besieged Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians are imprisoned without access to resources, employment or basic necessities.
The Israeli Prime Minister made similar statements Wednesday night, defending the Israeli attack and telling a meeting of Cabinet ministers that he would not bow to pressure to lift the blockade on Gaza.
Israel’s siege on Gaza is considered by the United Nations to be a violation of its duties as an occupying power under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and has passed several Security Council resolutions calling on Israel and its ally Egypt to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip.