Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Tragedy off Gaza [updated]

It’s obviously too early to know just exactly what went on when Israeli commandoes boarded the ill-named freedom flotilla last night, but their tragic overreaction has turned a rag-tag bunch of useful idiots, human shields and publicity-seekers into at least nine dead martyrs Israel could do without.

Yes, Israel was entitled to inspect the boats to ensure they weren’t bringing more rockets to Gaza to be fired into Israel—which was the very real reason for Israel’s blockade on Gaza.  But they should have been prepared for some sort of aggressive response from the thugs they should have known would be on board.

Yes, Israel was goaded into the killing (“Right now we face one of two happy endings,” said one woman idiot on board, “either martyrdom or reaching Gaza.”), but their intelligence must have told them that was what the jihadists on board were waiting for.

Yes, it’s true the commandoes were goaded by the so-called peaceful activists chanting “Remember Haibar, Oh, Jews,” a reference to Mohammed’s historic genocide of Jews at Haibar—were attacked by thugs wielding knives, catapults, iron bars, baseball bats, stun grenades and firebombs, and guns ripped from the commando’s hands——were well aware the jihadists on board were using the peaceniks as a cover for something more sinister. But these would have been well-trained troops immune to being taunted by a simple tune, however inflammatory, and well able to assert some sort of firm crowd control on even a reasonably well-prepared and well-armed bunch of jihadists—and given that they knew the whole world would be watching, if they couldn’t, they shouldn’t have been there.

Yes, it’s true that the “aid” the boats were bringing in was not the humanitarian lifeline the flotilla organisers claimed it to be; that Gaza is adequately supplied in most of the things it can afford, thank you very much, including arms; that the flotilla was not manned just by innocent, civilian humanitarians; that it was fully intended to be a provocation to intafada; but the commando’s ill-advised overreaction shows they took the bait, turning this ill-starred publicity stunt into something much more tragic all round.

Israel, it seems, was provoked into exactly the reaction that Hamas and its fellow-travellers would have been hoping for with this flotilla, even as the jihadists cried crocodile tears over the dead and wounded they themselves helped put in harm’s way, and the .  But this deadly overreaction will win Israel few friends, and has left at least nine people dead.

Tragic.  Just tragic.

UPDATE: What exactly happened on board is still largely unknown, but the aftermath to it is oh so predictable.

“Now that the thugs on board the Mavi Marvara have gotten the violence they wanted and instigated, the second stage of Hamas's operation has begun:  protests against Israel around the world .”

These are people who think the BBC is pro-Israeli, for goodness’ sake.

“Enraged by the BBC's bias against them, supporters of the Jihad Flotilla storm the BBC offices in Manchester…”

And don’t think the propaganda war isn’t important.

Turkey has led international calls to isolate Israel…

Israel was under pressure to lift its blockade of Gaza last night…”

Will those applying the pressure on Israel last night apply it the other way when the lifting of the blockade sees an avalanche of rockets heading towards Israel out of Gaza?


  1. So, what SHOULD Israel have done?

    Should they have just stood by and watched the activists (potential guerilla fighters) land with their supplies?

  2. My thoughts PC.

    I can't understand why Israel got themselves into this situation. Terribly stupid.

    Dave Mann: if they were indeed supplies, what would have the harm been?

  3. Israel needs to survive far more than it needs friends. Iran should take note.

  4. Well, ask yourself, was dropping heavily armed troops in at midnight likely to lead to a clean resolution or panic and uncertainty? Frankly I think the result was entirely predictable.

    Why not do what most countries in the Persian gulf are doing – shadowing and stopping with clear warnings and controlled boardings and searches in daylight so everyone knows what’s going on. Do you really think these ships could have berthed if the Israelis didn’t want them to?


  5. @Berend:
    The harm would have been that a flotilla of activists (ie potential or actual terrorists) stocked up with tame propaganda spin doctors (calling themselves journalists) would have been able sail blatantly through an Israeli blockade and give the big fingers to the IDF.

    Would you think that a good outcome? Obviously this depends on your perspective and which side you support, but still....

    If the Israelis wanted to stop this 'aid' flotilla, without boarding it, then the only practical soulution would be to sink the ships - which would have been an even worse result.

    I doesn't really matter whether Israel boards in daylight or dark and what they do short of shelling the vessels. Unlike Persian Gulf policing actions, these people are only after a propaganda victory and any result at all is a good result as far as they are concerned.

    Maybe the Israelis should simply escalate it next time to shelling and sinking because they can never win the propaganda war so why keep the kid gloves on?

  6. So Dave, Israel is the only nation in the world whose Navy cannot board another vessel without killing people?

    Pretty piss weak argument when you consider the people on board were only armed with pieces of wood.

  7. Rock and hard place1 Jun 2010, 13:11:00

    In a no-win situation for Israel they boarded armed with paint guns drawn, and only used their side arms when it was clear the militants on board were hostile.

    Massive PR damage, but faced with the choice between that and letting ships potentially full of weapons dgo through un-inspected, what would you choose?

  8. Anonymous @ 10:57, how long do you suppose Israel will last without friends? Sure, they might take a few with them when they go down, but without the international community, go down they inevitably will.

    I think as far as that realpolitik goes, they know this won't be the issue which causes the international community to walk away. But it's not helping, and if they continue along this path at some point the Israelis will become more of a liability than they are an asset.


  9. Agree Lew. Israel will not last without friends - especially friends with money.

    As Glenn Greenwald mentioned, " Will [the US] continue to acquiesce to the transfer of billions of dollars every year to the Israelis, who -- unlike Americans -- enjoy full, universal health care coverage."

    Obama's reaction has been neutral, which is appropriate, I think. And this is a tragedy, for all the reasons PC states.

  10. "Israel needs to survive far more than it needs friends. Iran should take note."

    If Israel wants to take on Iran, and it is going to need to, then it will be in desperate need of friends.

    At that time it might look back at this incident and wonder just why the hell it reacted so stupidly.

    There were many different things Israel could have done between the two extremes of standing by and letting the boats unload (which would have risked letting this and other shipments through which could have contained more rockets, but would have given them a propaganda victory) or lining up to sink them--but sending in a troop of commandos into a boatful of hyped-up jihadis to wave around a few paintball guns looks about as sensible as trying to tame a pitful of snakes by asking them not to bite you.

    It was always going to end badly, and I suspect that with some smarts it didn't need to.

  11. Yeah a bit more smarts might have helped. Like peacefully allowing the IDF to do what was required instead of stupidly attacking their armed soldiers.
    Darwin awards to the dead. Good riddance.

  12. "letting the boats unload ........... would have given them a propaganda victory"

    Eh? You think that would have been a propaganda victory for Israel?

    The Israelis had no choice - they tried everything else and indeed got the rest of the flotilla to accept a compromise, but this particular ship, crammed with useful idiots from around the world, forced their hand.
    My sympathies are with the IDF troops who were sent onto a ship full of terrorist enablers with just paintball guns and handguns to defend themselves.

  13. WTF do you think would have been the international rsponse if it had been, say, Australian sailors attacked by crazed Indonesian boat people with knives and metal bars etc?

    Lets get some perspective here shall we?

  14. The Israelis boarded the ship in international waters, which they have no legal right to do. They broke the International Law of the Sea and the people on the Flotilla had every legal right to try and force the Israelis off of their vessel because by trying to board the Israeli government engaged in banditry and piracy, both illegal actions according to the law. Israel however is not a signatory to this international agreement, one of the only countries in the world that believes they have the right to commit such actions.

    In addition to that, Israel's actions in Gaza since their faux 'withdrawal' from the Gaza strip in 2005 in controlling Gaza's borders and being in control of it's airspace and the waters surrounding it also are tantamount to continual occupation of Gaza. Therefore, Israel is ALSO under legal occupation to ensure that the people in Gaza are not suffering due to that occupation which includes ensuring they can receive adequate amounts of nutrition and other needs.

    Instead, Israel has maintained a horrendous blockade on Gaza since the landslide victory of Hamas in the 2005 elections where Palestinians democratically elected them as their government (despite the fact that Hamas has consistently held the position since it's election that they'd be willing to recognize Israel as a state providing that the Israelis agrees to the Arab Peace Initiative which would finally bring peace to the region).

    That blockade alone has caused a huge humanitarian disaster with malnutrition and other problems now on a massive scale. Since then the Israelis also attacked Gaza in 2008-09 and destroyed many of the buildings there and have since prevented the Palestinians from rebuilding their lives and industry to ensure economic prosperity which would have encouraged the peace process.. Israel barely lets anything into Gaza and is using keeping the blockade up to punish the Palestinians for electing Hamas into power instead of trying to bring about peace through a peace agreement..

    The aid that was being carried on those ships is desperately needed by the people of Gaza for their survival.

    The flotilla was a humanitarian mission by good hearted people who wanted to help the people of Gaza..

    Israel couldn't let that happen..

    The odd thing is that Israel just seems to keep making the wrong moves and as a result, it is sealing it's own eventual fate.. Iran doesn't need to do anything.. Hamas and Hezbollah don't even need to try and recruit fighters, Israeli policy and aggression does it for them..

    If the Israelis were smarter they'd lift the blockades and push for peace ASAP according to the Arab Peace Initiative.. The Arabs would accept and any of their dictatorship governments that relied on the Israeli threat to stay in power would quickly lose legitimacy and in fact their people would have them removed..

    There would be no more Hamas, there's be no more Hezbollah.. There'd be no need and those few fringe elements that remained would be turned out by their people, the vast majority of which strive for peace.

    Adonis Vlahos

  15. Another predictable outcome. Israel reacted as Israel does - A country in a permanent state of war. I tend to be unsympathetic to both sides. Both are irrational in their actions in the past and present day. Both are involved in active terrorism against each other. Nothing will change and everyone is expected to take sides. I refuse.

    - Nev Messent.

  16. Dealing with jihadis and Arabs is like playing cards with girls. They gloat when they win and cry when they lose.
    A boarding party armed with paint guns [what the-???]gets smacked up with stanchions, [and in one case--deep sixed], fired at with catapults, then responds with lethal side arms. This has all the qualities required of the lable 'FU' [fiasco unparalleled]
    Several things are now inevitable--screeching, wailing, ululating Arabs filling streets and burning stuff world wide, folks like Phil Goff and Keith Locke being outraged, and an Israeli mission planner getting his arse kicked.

    A tip here for all would-be international protestors.
    In NZ, if the armed offenders ninjas tell you to freeze and lie down, comply immediately. Do not debate the matter, attempt to engage the goon in combat or reach for a weapon. They will blow you to chops. They're like that.
    Now, if thats what it's like here, what do you think an IDF marine is like? His whole paradigm is a life surrounded by hair-trigger peoples who are batshit-crazy and you will become a casualty before he will. Even if you are on a big boat.



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