As you probably know, yet another ‘flotilla’ is on its way to Gaza. At least one ship has already left port, another mysteriously suffered crippling damage to its propeller shaft, and an American ship called “The Audacity of Hope” is preparing to set out with a cargo composed of letters from concerned Americans, about 36 activists (the cream of the extreme Left, including author Alice Walker), and 10 journalists. Some of the other ships are carrying ‘humanitarian aid’.
The flotilla is being organized by hard-core anti-Israel groups such as the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), the Free Gaza Movement, the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza, and the Turkish Islamist IHH — the folks that gave us the Mavi Marmara incident.
The activists claim that their mission is to bring medicines, etc. to Gaza, and to break the blockade so that Gaza will be free to ‘trade with the world’.
Although you still see references to deprivation in Gaza, even UN observers admit that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The border to Egypt is open, and thousands of tons of food and medicines come through the crossings from Israel every day — more, in fact, than the entire flotilla could carry. Gaza is ranked 101 of out 178 in the Human Development Index, a measure of quality of life — above almost all of Africa and Central America, and many Arab countries including Egypt (119) and Pakistan (136).
In any event, Israel and Egypt announced that ships carrying cargoes for Gaza can unload at Ashdod in Israel or El Arish in Egypt, where the cargo will be examined and transferred to Gaza. Naturally, this option was unacceptable to the organizers.
What cannot go through the crossings from Israel, and only with difficulty through Egypt, are weapons. This is the reason for the blockade — you can’t expect Israel to allow Iranian missiles into Gaza! The blockade is legal under international law.
According to the internationally recognized Law of the Sea, a blockade must be ‘effective’ in order to be legal. That is, you can’t selectively allow some ships to pass and stop others. Since Israel wants to keep its blockade legal, it must intercept the ships of the flotilla.
Once the blockade becomes ineffective, it will be harder for Israel to prevent the importation of weapons. That’s one of the flotilla’s objectives.
There is another goal, and that is to delegitimize Israel’s use of force for self-defense. Flotilla organizers almost certainly want to create an incident for which they can accuse Israel of disproportionate use of force. The ‘activists’ on board some of the ships are training to use ‘passive resistance’ against IDF boarding parties. Army sources have told the press that that there are also plans to try to kill or seriously injure them, in a replay of last May’s Mavi Marmara affair.
The best thing that can happen, from the organizers’ point of view, is that IDF personnel will injure or kill some of the passengers and it can be played as aggression rather than self-defense. Of course the IDF commandos have been training to prevent this. Both training and intelligence will be far better than in 2010 and it’s highly unlikely that the organizers will achieve their goal.
The ‘embedded’ journalists include some from major media outlets, including the NY Times, CNN and CBS. There is likely to be a symbiotic relationship between the activists who want publicity and the journalists who are looking for emotion and excitement to sell.
In my opinion, this will be a dud. The ships will not land in Gaza, none of the activists will be killed, and the NY Times, CNN and CBS will have an expensive non-story.
I know it’s childish and would have absolutely the wrong outcome, but does anyone remember the scene from the awful film “Sink the Bismarck” where the Bismarck destroys the HMS Hood with a single volley?