Israel and the Gaza Flotilla

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?”

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6 thoughts on “Israel and the Gaza Flotilla”

  1. I suspect that firing on the ship to disable it would have been a public relations disaster as well, especially if there had been casualties aboard the ship, and nothing could guarantee than there would not have been. Perhaps a volley of flash bangs on the deck would have been useful, perhaps not. This was a more difficult situation than most comentators make it out to be, and there were no good choices.

    One of the more ridiculous comments I’ve heard is that this episode has damaged Israel’s alliance with Turkey. In fact the Turkish alliance has been dead for some time, otherwise the Turks would never have allowed the ship to be fitted out in the first place.

  2. Burke:

    Don’t know if I agree with you, in that I think sending troops into what is obviously meant to be a messy provocation should not be the first choice. I do know that turkey has its own problems with Islamicists. Whether that is enough to offset the fact that Turks ain’t Arabs, I dunno.

    I think it’s fairly clear that Israel radically underestimated the desire of Hamas to have dead bodies, and how many people were willing to die.

    How are the gerbils singing karaoke at your bar? Erin

  3. Erin,

    I think the gerbils and ageing hippie minstrels have cleared out many of the regular customers, and much of the former staff to boot.

    Regarding Turkey, the place is sinking into madness. The Gaza fotilla is, from Turkey’s perspective, mostly a matter of their own internal politics. Perhaps they will be rescued by a military coup, but I doubt it.

    The common breakdown point with blockades is what to do about neutral ships. Attacks or seizures of neutrals can backfire in a big way. Germany’s use of submarines in War One cost them the victory by bringing America into the war. Iran’s attacks on tankers in the 80’s bought them a confrntation with the US Navy that they could not possibly have hoped to win.

    Hopefully, the blockader is only blockading until some other objective is attained. In the American Civil War, the North blockaded the South, but as they were doing so the Union armies were working to make the Confederacy perish from the Earth. The Israeli blockade of Gaza, while fully justified, is running into a time factor. Israel is not blockading until Hamas is removed, they are simply blockading, and over time Hamas and it’s many friends are able to mount diplomatic and information war initiatives to undermine Israel’s efforts. This is not an argument for invading Gaza (Although that may well be in the cards), I’m just pointing out that Israel has a damned tough hand to play.

    I don’t have a problem with using troops on the flotilla, even if it ends up in dead bodies, although I would work to keep that down to a minimum. You could disable the ships by firing on them, but then the goblins might pack them with human sheilds, even unwilling ones. The tactical options are always unappealing, regardless. Sadly, Israel is going to be blamed one way or the other. I understand that Reuters is cropping the pictures of the goblins on the ship to conceal their weapons.

    Don’t know if you saw it, but Helen Thomas, the ancient hag who had been warming a chair in the White House press room for decades, was finally fired for a rant in which she said that the Jews should leave Palestine and go back to Poland.

    Burke

  4. Burke:

    One of the things that no one recognizes is that any Israeli borne in Israel has as much claim to the land as any Palestinian. And if I were Helen Thomas, I would want the Palestinians to burn in hell for what they’d done to my country. Especially if I were of Marionite decent, or were otherwise Christian.

    Sorry to have taken so long to reply, but I’ve been occupied….

    Erin

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