When a trap is being visibly prepared for you, which the “Peace Flotilla” was, it is inadvisable to stick your head into it. Which Israel did when it boarded one of those ships and Israeli commandos were attacked.
Let me be clear about this.
Israel did two things wrong.
The first was boarding these ships when it did not have to. What those troops should have done was sailed alongside, hailed the crew, and explained that in 15 minutes, they would shoot out their rudders, their propellers, and possibly their engine room, therefore they will please clear those spaces to prevent unnecessary loss of life. At 15 minutes and 30 seconds, they should then have opened fire. When the propellers, rudder and engine were disabled, they should have ceased fire so that the crew might extinguish any fires. After that was attended to, they should have offered them a tow to Ashdod with media alerted on their terms. Or they could have let the flotilla sit dead in the water and think things over until they asked for a tow, whereupon they should have towed them to Ashdod.
Those commandos are enormously lucky that more of them weren’t wounded, that many were not killed, that they did not have to kill more of the peace activists. Note the lack of quotes to indicate sarcasm: I’m extremely curious as to how many of the dead and wounded have any background of political violence. It is extremely unlikely that people with no history of violent behavior towards authorities would attempt to attack and disarm commandos. What is certain is that the Hamas entity wanted bodies—and got them. How many of the dead were willing assault troops is a question that can only be answered by a casualty list that details previously violent behavior against those capable of self-defense—or lack thereof.
The second was putting Danny Ayalon, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, on the air. Now, I do not know him. He may be one of the world’s good human beings. But he looks like he should be doing deals on Wall Street–that’s an expensive haircut and an absolutely beautiful suit—and people who do deals cannot creditably claim to be persecuted or endangered, which Israel in fact is. (Incidentally, anyone who has been to Israel knows most Israelis are, well, slobs.) His canned lines about the terroristic nature of the flotilla and the hateful nature of Hamas, etc., etc., are connected to buttons that no longer work.
This is what he should have said.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the press. As you know, we have had a flotilla of ships preparing to run our blockade of Gaza. We had asked them to allow us to transship their cargo through normal channels, the normal protocol for UN and Red Cross aid. They repeatedly refused our offer. Now we know why. This morning, IDF commandos boarded one of the ships and were attacked with small-arms fire and hand-held weapons. At this time, at least ten members of the flotilla are dead, and N number are wounded, while we have suffered two wounded. Pending notification of their next of kin, we are releasing no names, but of the dead, X have no known ties to terrorist organizations and no history of violent behavior and Y are.
“Clearly, this was an planned ambush: a preliminary search of the vessels found weapons in ready locations. Just as clearly, we should have realized that the Hamas entity wanted the world to see the dead bodies of their supporters and members, and we obliged them. We regret the loss of life caused by our stupidity and are grateful for the relatively few casualties. However, we will not permit the Hamas entity to obtain weapons for use against our own citizens, which is what ending the blockade will mean. No nation worthy of the name permits such behavior by its neighbors. Are there any questions?”