Israeli ambassador defends raid


Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, Zion Evrony, said the deaths of 10 activists on a ship bound for Gaza today was a “sad result” but he claimed the activists had been engaged in a “pre-planned provocation”.

“I’m sorry that lives were lost. This was never our intention,” Mr Evrony said.

Mr Evrony said that according to international law, there was a right to intercept a ship with “hostile intention”, even in international waters.

“The point is that this was not an innocent humanitarian mission. Some of the participants fired on the Israeli soldiers and attacked them with knives and other weapons and they defended themselves,” he said.

“As a result, a few were killed. This is a sad result but this was never our intention.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny programme, Mr Evrony said that soldiers defend themselves when they are being attacked.

“This is what soldiers do. The participants were offered numerous times an alternative to bring their cargo to the port city of Ashdod north of Gaza where it will be unloaded, inspected and delivered to Gaza," he said.

“So this was not an innocent humanitarian mission. This was a pre-planned provocation to score points in the arena of public opinion and this was the sad result of it.”

The ambassador said what the activists were engaged in was “beyond propaganda”.

“You ignore the context. That Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is a terrorist regime that fired 8,000 rockets on Israeli civilians," he argued.

“And this is the logic of the Israeli operation, to prevent Hamas from rearming itself, from receiving material that can be used to produce more weapons, deadlier and longer-range weapons. So don’t ignore the context. It is very easy to stick to this tragedy of some of the participants losing their lives, which is sad.

“But see, please, the larger context of who controls the Gaza, what is the logic behind Israel’s overall operation – the thousands of rockets fired on Israeli civilians that keep being fired on civilians as we speak.”

Mr Evrony said there needed to be a distinction made. He said there were “well-meaning people who wanted to help the people of Gaza, but unfortunately they did not realise who they were getting involved with on the flotilla.

“Their good intentions were exploited by pro-Hamas extremists who set out to cause a violent confrontation with Israeli forces, and this is exactly what happened.”