Aug
10
2010

Washington Post Bungles History of Gaza Blockade

In an article (8/10/10) on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's testimony to an Israeli panel investigating the May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, the Washington Post gets the facts wrong on crucial history and context relating to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Joel Greenberg writes:

Netanyahu said that the naval blockade, imposed by the previous Israeli government in January 2009 during a military offensive against Hamas, was meant to prevent the smuggling of arms to the Gaza Strip, which he described as "a giant weapons depot and base for attacks on Israel."

He added that 12 ships had tried to run the blockade since it was imposed, but none had reached Gaza.

The naval blockade imposed by Israel is part of the full-blown embargo against the Gaza Strip, which began in 2006 and grew more severe in June 2007–three years before the January 2009 date Greenberg reports. The naval aspect of the blockade, according to the UN Goldstone report, began in 2006, when Israel set the fishing zone limit "unilaterally at six nautical miles and maintained this limit from October 2006 to January 2009, when it further restricted it to three nautical miles." The restrictions on fishing in Gaza's waters have decimated the local fishing industry, according to a 2009 report by the Gaza City-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

It is also not true that no ships have ran the blockade since it was imposed, as Netanyahu reportedly said. Greenberg may have realized this had he correctly reported the real beginning of the Israeli naval restrictions on Gaza instead of regurgitating Netanyahu's misleading testimony, who also wrongly put the start of the naval blockade at January 2009. In August 2008, the Free Gaza movement reached the shores of Gaza with two boats (BBC News, 8/23/08). And the Free Gaza movement successfully broke the naval blockade again in October 2008, when a "66-foot yacht, named The Dignity, arrived…with 26 activists and medical supplies" (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 10/28/08).