The stated purpose of the "peace flotilla" to Gaza was to bring much-needed "relief supplies to the people there. This was, of course, a lie. The "supplies" were not critically needed stuff (especially the cases and cases of expired pharmaceuticals and worn-out equipment), and Israel tried to deliver it to Gaza after unloading and inspecting it -- and Hamas refused to allow it into Gaza.
No, the purpose of the convoy was to break the Israeli blockade, so the flow of weapons into Gaza can resume for the next attack on Israel. Fortunately, the Palestinians lived up to their national motto -- "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" -- and blew it. Had they been smart, they'd have made sure the ships were carrying actual, useful aid, not put up any resistance to the Israelis, and accepted the supplies across the border. After several of these incidents, then Israel might have succumbed to the pressure and eased up the blockade. But instead they had to put their dumb (hell, suicidal) pride ahead of strategic interests, let a bunch of militant hotheads start a fight with armed Israeli commandos, and blew the whole plan to crap.
But back to the people of Gaza. What did they do to merit this blockading?
Well, they chose to have Hamas as their legally elected government.
Hamas? Who's that?
Well, for a short (but entertaining) answer, we can turn to FrankJ of IMAO. But for a bit more accurate one, let's look at their own words and deeds.
Hamas is, first and foremost, a radical Islamist terrorist group. They are a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, dedicated to turning "Palestine" (defined as Gaza, the West Bank, and all of Israel) into an Islamist state, with Sharia law supreme. As part of their efforts to achieve this, they intend to kill or drive out (the former preferred) all the Jews. They also explicitly reject all attempts at negotiations, accomodations, compromises, settlements, or anything else short of complete, genocidal victory.
If this sounds like hyperbole, it's simply a Reader's Digest Condensed version of their own charter.
Yes, Hamas also does other things besides terrorism. Yes, they do a few good things as well. But that is irrelevant. Their devotion to terrorism trumps everything else. To say otherwise, to say that their non-terrorist acts (done mainly as PR to counter the terrorism) is to set up an exchange rate for terrorism. "OK, Hamas, you built a hospital, two schools, and five clinics. That means you can fire six dozen rockets and blow up five buses. Go over that, though, and you'll have to build a senior center."
So Hamas is a terrorist group. But they are also the duly elected government of the Gaza Strip. What does that mean?
It doesn't mean that they have suddenly been whitewashed. That election does not erase their terrorist past (and present). Rather, it means that were Gaza an actual nation, it would be a terrorist nation, much like the Taliban was in Afghanistan. When we recognized them as the legitimate governing body, that put us under no obligation to deal with them. On the contrary -- under existing laws regarding dealings with terrorist organizations, it put severe restrictions on any interactions.
One commenter noted that currently Hamas has a declared "cease fire" going on with Israel. That, too, is meaningless. Groups like Hamas make those declarations when it's convenient for them. That means when they've run low on weapons or Israel is kicking their asses or something.
Note that unlike most other cease fires, it's not something that both sides agree to. Israel is never consulted on whether or not they want a cease fire. And Israel's calls for these cease fires are never heeded.
Why not? Because it's against Muslim law and tradition. "Hudnas" are temporary agreements, made when Muslims are at a disadvantage. They last only as long as it takes for the Muslims to believe they have gained the advantage, and then they are over.
The biggest challenge we face in dealing with Hamas is the inability of many people to actually listen to and read what Hamas says, and take them at their word. To so many, they feel the need to "interpret" what Hamas says, to downplay their rhetoric, to say that they really don't mean what they say.
Hamas has shown, time and time and time again, that they mean exactly what they say. They have show, time and time and time again, that they have absolutely no interest in anything short of the complete obliteration of Israel, the slaughter of every single Jew, and the institution of an Islamist state in its place.
And the people of Gaza have affirmed their support for that agenda.
As long as Hamas remains the legitimate government of Gaza, embargoes and blockades of all but true humanitarian aid is not a war crime.
Rather, it is absolutely imperative.