· Last night, IDF forces took control over the flotilla bound for Gaza, in contravention of the blockade.
· The IDF action was authorized by the Security Cabinet, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense.
· Passengers on one of the six boats initiated violent clashes.
· Israel regrets that people have been injured, but responsibility lies with the organizers and participants of the flotilla who initiated the violence.
· The State of Israel approached the organizers of the flotilla – prior to their departure and late, while at sea – and invited them to dock at the Port of Ashdod for the sake of transferring their cargo to Gaza, subject to security inspection. The organizers refused.
· While boarding on of the vessels, IDF soldiers were physically attacked with live ammunition and other weapons, including knives and clubs, which had been prepared in advance. A weapon belonging to one of soldiers was snatched and, apparently, fired on IDF forces.
· During the course of the incident, when their lives were put in danger, IDF soldiers were compelled to employ means to disperse demonstrations, including live weapons.
· Initial reports indicate that about 10 flotilla participants were killed, and others injured, during the course of events. Seven Israeli naval officers were also wounded. All the injured were evacuated to hospitals.
· There is no famine or humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The area is under the control of Hamas, a terrorist organization that continues to arm itself with weapons and rockets for the purpose of attacking Israelis – as it has done in the past. Hamas continues to hold captive an Israeli soldier, in contravention of international law. Accordingly, Israel stands on its natural right to inspect all cargo entering Gaza.
· The entire flotilla was designed as a media stunt and political provocation by elements that are hostile to Israel, primarily the IHH – a violent, extremist group which supports terrorist organizations under the guise of humanitarian activity. Israelis are being encouraged to exercise restraint and not allow radicals to exploit this incident for the sake of igniting violence.
· Israel will continue to express its desire for peace and extend its hand to all those who are willing to engage.