Here we go again

Update:

Peacefully resolved. The Irish crew had apparently made advance arrangements with the IDF, and this ship only had about 20 activists on board, not 600.

(h/t A Conservative Shemale)

—-

Another “relief” ship is going to try and run Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

ISTANBUL – An aid ship trying to break the blockade of Gaza could reach Israel’s 20-mile (32-kilometer) exclusion zone late Friday, an activist said, but Israel’s prime minister has vowed the ship will not reach land.

These runs are nothing more than deliberate attempts to provoke Israel into a response that can be used (and misrepresented) to undermine public opinion. As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s a pure Xanatos gambit – it doesn’t matter how Israel responds, whatever they do can be used against them one way or another. As far as these “peace” activists are concerned, the entire point of these shipments is to create a violent confrontation with Israels military, and someone getting killed is actually a bonus.

Israel will not allow the aid ship to reach Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told senior Cabinet ministers late Thursday. According to a participant in the meeting, he said Israel made several offers to direct the ship to an Israeli port, where the aid supplies would be unloaded, inspected and transferred to Gaza by land, but the offers were rejected.

If they really cared about getting the “humanitarian” supplies to Gaza, they would have taken that offer.

Israel’s options are limited, and their enemies are taking advantage of it. When one of these blockade runners refuses to stop, there are only a few things Israel can do:

1. Allow them through. The problem with this option is that it creates a precedent that ties Israel into letting follow-on flotillas through, effectively ending the blockade. Eventually, once it’s established that Israel won’t stop them, the flotillas will be used for carrying weapons to Gaza – the very thing the blockade was established to prevent. It also would be taken as a sign of weakness that would encourage Israel’s enemies to pursue even more ways to hurt them.

2. Board the ship to stop it. This is, of course, what Israel has been doing. The idea is that this allows Israel to use the minimum amount of force needed to stop the ship. The Israeli unit that boarded the ship on Monday was armed primarily with non-lethal weapons – reports have varied, but it seems they were carrying paintball guns (presumably with pepperballs), rubber bullets, and tear gas. They were attacked as soon as they boarded the ship, and only transitioned to lethal weapons when they felt their lives were in danger (there are differing accounts of events, of course, but apparently there is a video showing one soldier being stabbed before they made the switch). This approach had been working, because the ships that had been stopped in the past did not offer any violent resistance. Now, however, they are trying to provoke a confrontation, and are willing to martyr themselves for their cause. Every person they force Israel to kill is one more death they can use in their attempts to alter international perception of Israel.

The events Monday have the possibility of provoking Israel into considering more forceful options.

3. Full-force boarding of any ship that refuses to stop. This was one suggestion of what Israel should have done in the first place, and would involve tear gas and stun grenades on deck before the soldiers board, and starting out using beanbag rounds and rubber bullets. The problem with this approach is that it would play into the enemies’ hands in the PR war, with the media decrying the “unprovoked violence” and “excessive force against unarmed peace activists.” By being the first to use force – even non-lethal force – against people who have not actually shown any violent intent, Israel becomes the “bad guy” in public perception, whether it’s justified or not.

4. Disable any ship that refuses to stop by firing on it. This was suggested in a comment at LawDog’s blog (actually, sinking it was the suggestion). This has all the drawbacks of option #3 above, but multiplied by 1000. Sure, you might be able to disable the engines and rudder with few or no casualties, but it has the public perception of shooting someone in the back when they’re running away and you don’t know if they were a threat in the first place. If you think Israel is being raked over the coals now, just imagine the firestorm if they did this.

So, if you were Israel, what would you do? Remember, Israel’s enemies are not it’s enemies because of territorial disputes, or political differences, or resource competition, they are Israel’s enemies because they want to wipe Israel off the map – they refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to even exist. There is no common ground even to begin negotiations, and Israel has only survived on the strength of it’s military and it’s willingness to exactly what it says it will to defend itself, combined with support from the US, Britain, and a very few other allies. These flotillas are designed to either erode that international support, or force Israel to allow the flotillas through and open up a new avenue for smuggling weapons and military supplies into Gaza.

Either outcome is acceptable to these people, and they see it as being worth dying for. Israel cannot afford to back down in the face of that kind of extremism.

Update: Words of criticism against the flotillas from someone “who is considered Turkey’s most influential religious leader.”

SAYLORSBURG, Pa.—Imam Fethullah Gülen, a controversial and reclusive U.S. resident who is considered Turkey’s most influential religious leader, criticized a Turkish-led flotilla for trying to deliver aid without Israel’s consent.

[…]

Mr. Gülen said organizers’ failure to seek accord with Israel before attempting to deliver aid “is a sign of defying authority, and will not lead to fruitful matters.”

It’s good to see an influential Muslim leader speaking out against these deliberate provocations.

(h/t Jenn at A Conservative Shemale)

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3 Comments

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