JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is facing "international hypocrisy" over its interception of a Gaza-bound flotilla, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli public.
“Israel is told it has the right to defend itself, but when we do exercise that right we’re condemned for it,” Netanyahu said in a nationally televised address Wednesday evening. “Israel should not be held to a double standard.”
Netanyahu said that Israel regrets the death of nine activists on a Turkish ship, where passengers with metal rods, knives and guns taken from Israeli soldiers attacked Israeli forces as they boarded early Monday morning.
"Of course we regret the loss of life, but I ask the international community what would you do instead? We’ll continue to defend our citizens and assert our right for self-defense, which is my first duty as prime minister," he said, adding, "It is important that we stay united on this issue, which is a matter of life and death."
Netanyahu asserted that if the blockade had been broken, hundreds of ships would have followed, bringing massive amounts of weapons into Gaza. The prime minister recalled the Francop and Karine-A ships, which he said were carrying hundreds of tons of weapons for use against Israel when they were intercepted in recent years.
Netanyahu said the flotilla’s intention was to break the blockade, not provide humanitarian aid to Gaza.
"This wasn’t the ‘Love Boat,’ this was a flotilla of terror supporters," Netanyahu said.