H. R. 3131
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
October 6, 2011
Mr. Bilirakis (for himself, Mr. Engel, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, Mrs. Maloney, Mr. Sarbanes, Ms. Berkley, Mr. Carter, Mr. Frelinghuysen, Mr. Young of Florida, Mr. Grimm, Mr. Diaz-Balart, Mr. Rothman of New Jersey, Mr. Roskam, and Mr. Sires) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To direct the Secretary of State to submit a report on whether any support organization that participated in the planning or execution of the recent Gaza flotilla attempt should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization and any actions taken by the Department of State to express gratitude to the government of Greece for preventing the Gaza flotilla from setting sail in contravention of Israel’s legal blockade of Gaza, and for other purposes.
Congress finds the following:
Since 1948, the United States, Greece, and the international community at large have recognized Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself and conduct legitimate self-defense.
Since 2001, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip and supported by Iran and Syria have launched over 10,000 rockets into Israeli civilian populations and across Israeli territory.
Since the beginning of 2010, Israel has provided over 100,000 tons of aid to the people living in Gaza.
Israel’s blockade is acknowledged by the United States as necessary and legal given Hamas’ control of Gaza, intention to secure greater weaponry for aggressive purposes and open desire to destroy Israel.
According to sources, the United Nations-commissioned Palmer Report which was released on July 7, 2011, concludes that the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza is legal and is in accordance with international law.
The Israeli Government has repeatedly indicated that any desire to provide humanitarian materiel to Gaza can be done through the port of Ashdod then delivered to Gaza by land.
Recent past history has suggested that the sole intent of the flotillas is to provoke an Israeli military response in the international waters of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of the Treasury have determined that flotilla organizers Free Gaza and the Insan Hak ve Hurriyetleri ve Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), an Islamic nongovernmental organization (known in English as the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief), have known terrorist ties.
In 2010, IHH organized a flotilla that included the ship Mavi Marmara carrying 40 IHH members, including Fatima Mahmadi, Ken O'Keefe, Hassan Iynasi, Hussein Urosh, Ahmad Umimon, and others with known links to Al Qaeda, Hamas, and other terrorist organizations who were armed with 100 metal rods, 200 knives, 150 military self-defense vests, 50 wooden clubs, gas masks, and a telescopic sight for a gun.
The explicit objective of the Gaza Flotilla organizers that set sail in 2010 was to breach Israel’s coastal security by breaking the lawful and legitimate Israeli maritime security perimeter around the Gaza Strip.
According to a June 7, 2010, report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (known by its Hebrew acronym MALAM), based on security interviews of the Gaza Flotilla participants, at least 40 of the 500 passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara vessel were IHH operatives who boarded the ship in an Istanbul port prior to the security checks conducted at the port in Antalya, Turkey, to which the other passengers, mostly humanitarian volunteers, were subject.
According to this Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report, these IHH activists were equipped with communications equipment, flak jackets, and gas masks.
The group operated with a clear internal hierarchy, with specific activists nominated as fighting commanders and who turned the upper deck of the Mavi Marmara into its headquarters, blocking it off to other passengers.
In the most recent organization of a Gaza flotilla, Greece worked with the Israeli Government in order to prohibit any violations of Israel’s legal blockade of Gaza.
Greece has proven itself to be a strategic partner and ally of the United States in anchoring political stability and advancing economic development in the Balkan and Black Sea regions of southeast Europe and Eurasia, in the Middle East and northern Africa, and throughout the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Greece is an active participant in peacekeeping and peace-building operations conducted by international organizations, including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (EU), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Greece acted without hesitation in prohibiting any Greek-flagged or foreign-flagged vessels from setting sail out of Greek ports into the water of the Gaza naval blockade.
Pursuant to a decision by the Minister of Citizen Protection, Mr. C. Papoutsis, the departure of ships with Greek and foreign flags from Greek ports to Gaza was prohibited on July 1, 2011, and the Hellenic Coast Guard ordered that all appropriate measures be taken for the implementation of such decision.
The Greek Government worked diligently to ensure the safety of even the organizers of the flotilla knowing that their reckless, irresponsible, and provocative acts against a sovereign country engaged in self-defense could result in great bodily harm or even death to themselves and other individuals.
The Greek Government took more extraordinary measures to ensure that the broader maritime area of the eastern Mediterranean Sea would be continuously monitored by electronic means for tracking, where applicable, the movements of the ships allegedly participating in such an illegal campaign.
Greek authorities boarded ships and took into custody several individuals, including Captain John Klusmire of the ship Audacity of Hope as it violated Greek Coast Guard orders by setting sail without permission.
Greek authorities acted in accordance with the recommendation of the Quartet—the United States, the European Union, the United States and Russia—as it urged countries to prohibit Gaza-bound flotillas that would serve solely to escalate tension in the Middle East.
Declaration of Congress
notes the important role that Greece has played in the wider European, Eurasian, and Middle Eastern regions, and in the community of nations by promoting, peace, freedom, democracy, and security; and
stands behind Israel for its sovereign right to defend its citizens and its territory, and specifically for its actions to prevent the import of offensive weaponry into the hands of Hamas, Palestinian Jihad, and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.
Sense of Congress
It is the sense of Congress that the United States should take appropriate diplomatic steps to express gratitude to Greece for upholding the rule of law in preventing hostile forces from violating a legal naval blockade of Gaza by Israel and thereby advancing the security of its ally Israel.
Not later than six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate a report on whether any support organization that participated in the planning or execution of the recent Gaza flotilla attempt should be designated as a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189).
The report required under subsection (a) shall include information on the following:
The sources of any logistical, technical, or financial support for the Gaza flotilla ships, including the Audacity of Hope, that were set to set sail from Greece on July 1, 2011.
Any actions taken by the Department of State to express support and gratitude for the principled stance taken by the Government of Greece to prevent the recent Gaza flotilla attempt to violate Israel’s lawful blockade of Gaza.