Rep. Wasserman Schultz Statement on Israel's Right to Self Defense
The loss of life that occurred off Israel's coast early Monday morning was tragic and regrettable. At this difficult time, it is vital that the international community not inflame the situation with condemnations and unjust criticism of Israel.
We must stand strong with Israel amidst the tragedy.
We must remember several elements of this conflict that place this tragedy in context. All but one of the flotilla's ships were able to safely and peacefully transfer humanitarian goods to Gaza, via the Israeli port city of Ashdod. In this case, the aim of the passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara was not merely humanitarian aid, but to incite political confrontation and challenge Israel's legitimate maritime blockade. The delivery of aid to Gaza by this flotilla convoy was a pretense to rouse political provocation against Israel.
We must not forget that this blockade exists because Hamas, the ruling party of Gaza, is a terrorist organization with the sworn goal to destroy the Jewish State. Such a blockade by Israel and Egypt is a means to stop the smuggling of illegal materials and weapons to Hamas. Conversely, the Israeli Navy worked to plan a non-violent interception of the flotilla and only used force when soldiers' lives were at risk.
Tragically, members of the Israeli military were beaten and stabbed while trying to peacefully escort this ship to shore, where all donated goods could have been transferred to the people of Gaza.
As Israel continues to face unjust criticism on the world stage, the United States must continue to support our friend, ally, and partner. In the meantime, this incident should in no way take our focus off the impending threat of a nuclear Iran, which is the greatest threat to global security and peace in the Middle East.