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Public Statements

The Israeli Blockade and the Flotilla

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. GRAYSON. Thank you very much.

The question that has been raised by critics of Israel for the past week is why is Israel intercepting ships on the so-called high seas, 100 miles from its own shores, and the answer can be summed up in one simple phrase: self-defense. That simple phrase explains what we saw and explains Israel's continuing need to protect itself.

Over 1,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza into the territory of Israel, 1,000 rockets. Imagine what we would do if 1,000 rockets were fired into San Diego. Imagine what we would do if 1,000 rockets were fired into Seattle or into Detroit or any other border area.

In the case of Israel, 1 million people live within rocket range of Gaza, and those 1 million people have been living through hell for years with a 15-second warning to seek shelter when a rocket attacks. And as a result of that, 13 Israelis have died, but it's inflicted huge harm on the people who live within rocket range in south Israel. One-third of all the children in south Israel suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Again, imagine what we would do to stop such attacks if they were directed against us.

That's the fundamental reason why Israel feels obliged, the Israeli military feels obliged, to do what it needs to do to protect its citizens. These ships were not in any way interfered with because they were carrying humanitarian aid. The ships were interfered with for one reason and one reason only. That's because they could have been carrying missiles and rockets and things that could be made into missiles and rockets. It's a fundamental duty of the Israeli military to protect the people of Israel, just as it's a fundamental duty of our military to protect us. What they did was what they needed to do in order to ensure the safety of their own people, and honestly, in the same circumstances, we would have done the same thing.

Thank you very much.

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