All the details are not clear, but it seems that the Israeli navy boarded the ships, and they were met with violent resistance — iron bars, bats, long knives, perhaps firearms. At least in one case a weapon was taken from one of the IDF commandos and turned against them. The commandos defended themselves, and the result was about 10 dead ‘activists’ and a large number of injured — including at least seven of the commandos, some of whom were injured rather seriously. The ships are now being taken to port.
The friends of Hamas are saying that the commandos landed on the deck shooting. This is nonsense, but it is what everyone in the Muslim and left-wing world will believe.
Once the violence started, the commandos had no option but to fight back. But although Israel was entirely justified under international law in boarding the ships — they were attempting to violate a blockade of a hostile entity, Hamas, they were warned and offered various options — what occurred will be painted as another ‘vicious massacre’ of ‘peace activists’. That is, there will be at least ten new Rachel Corries.
The UN, various governments, NGOs, the Obama Administration, and every imaginable unfriendly group will immediately jump in with both feet to bash Israel. There will be demonstrations, condemnations, revenge attacks, resolutions, boycotts, sanctions, divestments, punishments, etc. Overall a disaster.
It’s easy to say in hindsight that this should have been handled differently. But apparently the planners on the Israeli side misread the intentions of the ‘peace activists’.
Everyone thought they understood that the real goal of the operation was not to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, which wasn’t in need of it, but to ‘break the blockade’.
But that was not the point either.
The whole purpose of the ‘peaceful’, ‘humanitarian’ effort was to provoke a violent Israeli response in order to create the very reaction that we are beginning to see. This was clearly a planned and deliberate attempt to provoke as much violence as possible, and Israel fell squarely into the middle of the trap. Despite the supposed cynicism of Israel’s leaders, this possibility seems to have gone right by them.
One almost feels sorry for those passengers who considered themselves peace activists, who, like Rachel Corrie, were used. It was a Children’s Crusade.
Almost. But perhaps it should have prompted some concern yesterday when some of the ‘peaceniks’ on the ship were shown on al-Jazeera chanting “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad saya’ud“,
“[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”
Khaibar is the name of last Jewish village defeated by Muhammad’s army and it [is said to mark] the end of Jewish presence in Arabia in 628. — Palestinian Media Watch
There was also evidence that some of the sponsors were less than committed to non-violence; and of course the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) has consistently employed the tactic of putting international dupes like Rachel Corrie in harm’s way.
Why were we surprised?
Update [1036 PDT]: Video is here showing how Israeli soldiers were viciously attacked as they landed on the ship.
This was a confrontation with terrorists, not humanitarians.
Update [1 June 0901 PDT]: Several minor changes were made to this post.