Here is the list of questions that Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery asks, in his weekly article sent around by email, concerning Israel and the the Freedom Flotilla that was intercepted at sea on 30 May (the MV Rachel Corrie stopped a week later), as the ships were in international water in the Eastern Mediterranean, but headed toward Gaza:
“1. What is the real aim of the Gaza Strip blockade?
2. If the aim is to prevent the flow of arms into the Strip, why are only 100 products allowed in (as compared to the more than 12 thousand products in an average Israeli supermarket)?
3. Why is it forbidden to bring in chocolate, toys, writing material, many kinds of fruits and vegetables (and why cinnamon but not coriander)?
4. What is the connection between the decision to forbid the import of construction materials for the replacement or repair of the thousands of buildings destroyed or damaged during the Cast Lead operation and the argument that they may serve Hamas for building bunkers – when more than enough materials for this purpose are brought into the Strip through the tunnels?
5. Is the real aim of the blockade to turn the lives of the 1.5 million human beings in the Strip into hell, in the hope of inducing them to overthrow the Hamas regime?
6. Since this has not happened, but – on the contrary – Hamas has become stronger during the three years of the blockade, did the government ever entertain second thoughts on this matter?
7. Has the blockade been imposed in the hope of freeing the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit?
8. If so, has the blockade contributed anything to the realization of this aim, or has it been counter-productive?
9. Why does the Israeli government refuse to exchange Shalit for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, when Hamas agrees to such a deal?
10. Is it true that the US government has imposed a veto on the exchange of prisoners, on the grounds that it would strengthen Hamas?
11. Has there been any discussion in our government about fulfilling its undertaking in the Oslo agreement – to enable and encourage the development of the Gaza port – in a way that would prevent the passage of arms?
12. Why does the Israeli government declare again and again that the territorial waters of the Gaza strip are part of Israel’s own territorial waters, and that ships entering them “infringe on Israeli sovereignty”, contrary to the fact that the Gaza Strip was never annexed to Israel and that Israel officially announced in 2006 that it had “separated” itself from it?
13. Why has the Attorney General’s office declared that the peace activists captured on the high seas, who had no intention whatsoever of entering Israel, had “tried to enter Israel illegally”, and brought them before a judge for the extension of their arrest under the law that concerns “illegal entry into Israel”?
14. Who is responsible for these contradictory legal claims, when the Israeli government argues one minute that Israel has “separated itself from the Gaza Strip” and that the “occupaton there has come to an end” – and the next minute claims sovereignty over the coastal waters of the Strip?