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Rockland County, NY--(These are the remarks being read for Congressman Eliot Engel at the courthouse rally in Rockland Sunday. The Congressman could not attend because of a family emergency.)
“Once again, the world has rushed to judgment in its condemnation of Israel for the crisis surrounding the boarding of ships headed for Gaza. As in the past, the critics of Israel don't ask the serious questions; they merely try Israel in the media and pronounce it guilty without considering all of the facts.

“This flotilla was no mere humanitarian mission, it was really a Trojan Horse designed to attack the Israelis and force an international incident. My question to anyone condemning the Israeli Navy is 'what should they have done’?

“While I regret any loss of life, I must ask why so-called peaceful protestors were beating Israel’s boarding parties with clubs. The Israeli navy boarded the ship armed only with paintball guns – a “weapon” used for recreation and to control ordinary protest mobs – and were attacked with knives, bats and other weapons. Even after that, the Israeli Navy deployed stun grenades rather than deadly force. Instead the attacks increased, with even more people joining in. Finally, they did what any armed forces member of any nation would do, they defended themselves.

“This was anything but a group of peace-minded civic demonstrators. Rather, this ship was filled with hate-filled provocateurs bent on violence. Their aim was not to distribute humanitarian supplies, but to violently force themselves through Israel's blockade of Gaza. If they truly wanted to deliver food and medicine to the people in Gaza, they would have accepted Israel's offer to dock in the port of Ashdod and permit humanitarian organizations to distribute the aid after Israel inspected the cargo for weapons. The organizers of the flotilla have alleged links to Hamas and reportedly played a role in the attempted Millennium bombing in Los Angeles.

“Hundreds of trucks filled with humanitarian supplies already enter Gaza every day. Israel's blockade of Gaza doesn't affect that. Yet, the Gaza blockade is a matter of life and death for Israelis. Israel seals off Gaza not because it wants to, but because it must. Lifting the blockade would mean shipments of missiles, rockets, and bombs reaching the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza.

“Let’s put the blame where it belongs. True humanitarians would not have responded with violence, and no one should ever confuse relief workers with violent instigators.”