JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The following are excerpts of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s televised remarks on Wednesday in which he rejected world criticism of Israel’s deadly raid this week against an aid flotilla headed to Gaza.
*Once again Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment.
*Hamas is smuggling thousands of Iranian rockets, missiles and other weaponry, smuggling it into Gaza in order to fire on Israel’s cities.
These missiles can reach Ashdod, Beersheba, these are major Israeli cities. And I regret to say that some of them can reach now Tel Aviv and very soon the outskirts of Jerusalem. And from the information we have, the planned shipments include weapons that can reach even farther and deeper into Israel. *Under international law and under common sense and common decency, Israel has every right to interdict this weaponry and to inspect the ships that might be transporting them.
This is not a theoretical challenge or a theoretical threat. We’ve already interdicted vessels bound for Hezbollah and for Hamas from Iran containing hundreds of tons of weapons.
*Israel simply cannot permit the free flow of weapons and war materials to Hamas from the sea. I’ll go further than that. Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem, and I go beyond that, too. I say to the responsible leaders of all the nations, the international community cannot afford an Iranian port on the Mediterranean.
*I warn of this impending willingness to enable Iran to establish a naval port right next to Israel, right next to Europe. The same countries that are criticizing us today should know that they will be targeted tomorrow. *It’s for this and for many other reasons we have a right to inspect cargo heading into Gaza. And here’s our policy, it’s very simple. Humanitarian and other goods can go in, and weapons and war material cannot. And we do let civilian goods get into Gaza. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. *Our naval personnel had no choice but to board these vessels. Now on five of the vessels our seamen were not met by any serious violence and as a result there were no serious injuries aboard those ships. But on the larger ship something very different happened. Our naval personnel ... were met with a vicious mob, they were stabbed they were clubbed, they were fired upon... they had to act in self defense. *They were members of an extremist group that ... today supports the terror organization called Hamas. They brought with them in advance knives, steel rods, other weapons. They chanted battle cries against the Jews.
*This wasn’t a love boat, this was a hate boat.
*I think that the evidence that the lives of the Israeli seamen were in danger is crystal clear. *I regret to say that for many in the international community no evidence is needed. Israel is guilty until proven guilty. Once again Israel is told that it has a right to defend itself but it is condemned every time it exercises that right.
*Israel regrets the loss of life, but we will never apologize for defending ourselves.
*Israel has every right to prevent deadly weapons from entering into hostile territory, and Israeli soldiers have every right to defend their lives and their country.
*Israel should not be held to a double standard. The Jewish State has a right to defend itself just like any other state.
Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan