A Special Place in Hell / The Second Gaza War: Israel lost at sea -Published 12:24 31.05.10 Haaretz
We were determined to avoid an honest look at the first Gaza war. Now, in international waters and having opened fire on an international group of humanitarian aid workers and activists, we are fighting and losing the second. For Israel, in the end, this Second Gaza War could be far more costly and painful than the first.
Like in "Mini-Israel," the park where there is everything, but smaller, Israel embarked yesterday on a mini Operation Cast Lead. Like its larger, losing predecessor, this operation had it all: the usual false claim that is was they who had started it - and not the landing of commandos from helicopters on a ship in open sea, away from Israeli territorial waters. There was the claim that the first act of violence came not from the soldiers, but the rioting activists on Mavi Marmara; that the blockade on Gaza is legal and that the flotilla to its shores is against the law - God knows which law.
Again came the claim of self defense, that "they lynched us" and that all the dead are on their side. Once more the use of violence and excessive and lethal force was in play and once more civilians wound up dead.
Yesterday's fiasco could and should have been prevented. This flotilla should have been allowed to pass and the blockade should be brought to an end.
This should have happened a long time ago. In four years Hamas has not weakened and Gilad Shalit was not released. There was not even a sign of a gain.
And what have we instead? A country that is quickly becoming completely isolated. This is a place that turns away intellectuals, shoots peace activists, cuts off Gaza and now finds itself in an international blockade. Once more yesterday it seemed, and not for the first time, that Israel is increasingly breaking away from the mother ship, and losing touch with the world - which does not accept its actions and does not understand its motives.
Yesterday there was no one on the planet, not a newsman or analyst, except for its conscripted chorus, who could say a good word about the lethal takeover.
Turkey, Israel’s most important friend in the Muslim world, recalled its ambassador and canceled planned military exercises with Israel as the countries’ already tense relations soured even further.
“The government failed the test of results; blaming the organizers of the flotilla for causing the deaths by ignoring Israel’s orders to turn back is inadequate,” Aluf Benn, a columnist for Haaretz, on the newspaper’s Web site on Monday, calling for a national committee of inquiry. “Decisions taken by the responsible authorities must be probed.”
The raid and its deadly consequences have thrown Israel’s policy of blockading Gaza into the international limelight.
Einat Wilf, a Labor Party member of Parliament who sits on the influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that she had warned Mr. Barak and others well in advance that the flotilla was a public relations issue and should not be dealt with by military means.
“This had nothing to do with security,” she said in an interview. “The armaments for Hamas were not coming from this flotilla.”
The fatalities all occurred aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish passenger vessel that was carrying about 600 activists under the auspices of Insani Yardim Vakfi, also known as I.H.H. The organization, founded in 1992 to collect aid for the Bosnians, is now active in 120 countries and has been present at recent disaster areas like Haiti and New Orleans.
“Our volunteers were not trained military personnel,” said Yavuz Dede, deputy director of the organization. “They were civilians trying to get aid to Gaza. There were artists, intellectuals and journalists among them. Such an offensive cannot be explained by any terms.”
Holy Sweet Lord, Turkey has announced they will send another flotilla to Gaza—escorted by the Turkish Navy!
Does Israel want a war with Turkey? They can’t win it, short of using nukes, and Turkey is a NATO member, if Israel attacks NATO ships, Turkey can invoke Article V (in fact, they can invoke it already, since the ships were attacked by a non NATO power on the high seas.) If Turkey does so, of course NATO nations will refuse, but doing so will break NATO.