There is going to be an outcry thats for sure. Well, there already is the predictable condemnation of Israel's actions. It appears that the flotilla that set sail in Turkey to break through an Israeli curfew on Gaza was stopped by the Israeli navy. In the course of that, up to 19 people were killed. A spokeswomen for one of the organisations behind this attempt said on CNN this morning that the activists on the flotilla were unarmed and that a baby was among them and that therefore the Israeli action was illegal. I am going to contest that:
1. Israel said all along it would stop the flotilla if necessary by military action. Putting a baby on board such a ship is therefore irresponsible and should not go unpunished, irrespective of what happened.
2. The actitivists were armed. The may not have had guns or rifles, but they were carrying axes, sticks and other improvised weapons. They were wearing life vests, clearly in anticipation and preparation of the Israeli attack. They were deliberately risking a confrontation.
3. As long as Gaza or the Palestinian territories are not a recognised state, the waters off the shore of Gaza are Israeli territorial waters, and Israel gets to decide who is allowed to pass through them. Implying otherwise is undermining the sovereignty of any nation, like it or not.
4. By the way, what the hell is Turkey doing allowing such an attack on Israeli sovereignty being prepared on its soil? The outrage of the Turkish government strikes me as purely hypocritical, letting the flotilla sail, knowing that it would end up in a confrontation with a far superior Israeli navy and afterwards blaming Israel for the unfolding violence is nothing but hypocritical.
5. Even if the siege on Gaza is illegal, which I doubt, who gave the NGOs that organised the flotilla the right or mandate to breach it? I would bet the money in my pocket that these NGOs also critised the intervention in Iraq. Call it a double standard, call it hypocrisy, it surely is one of these things.
What are we to make of that? Thing is, the incident clearly shows that the Israeli side is loosing the PR-war big time. It also shows that the Israeli approach is not sustainable. Over years, the Israelis were not necessarily interested in a peace-agreement, they were interested in security, though they would prefer a final settlement. They did not aim to resolve the conflict, they were satisfied by managing it, though again they would have preferred to resolve it. This was pragmatic security policy, but it was not very visionary. This is going to have to change.