Up to 9 people aboard a flotilla of ships carrying aid for the Gaza Strip were killed earlier Monday when Israeli navy commandos stormed the vessels in international waters. In the past, Israel used to get away with killing Palestinians, and the odd international activists, in isolated incidents. Now the Israeli military is raising bar by killing a dozen foreign nationals at one time.
Following the incident, the Israeli media spin machine immediately went into high gear. In a press conference Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that while he was "sorry for lives lost, the organizers of the Gaza-bound protest flotilla were solely responsible for the outcome of the fatal IDF raid earlier in the day." How does the Israel war machine manage to portray peace activists and humanitarians including many dignitaries into violent thugs is beyond me.
In a strange coincident, at the the same time the Israeli "brave" army was hijacking aid ships headed to Gaza, Somali pirates tried to seize an aid ship headed to Gaza with 100 tons of canned meat. Unlike the Israeli pirates, the Somali pirates failed to take control of the ships and the aid will make it to Gaza without loss of life. Frankly, the difference between the Somali pirates and the Israeli ones is the quality of their press releases. The Israeli pirates also happen to have much better uniforms.
Clearly, the assault on the freedom flotilla in international waters is a new low for this current Israeli government that has proven once again that they are their own worst enemy.
How is this, you ask?
Hamas is a winner of this confrontation. The Israeli sea assault proves that Israel still controls Gaza and they have not actually left this narrow strip of land as they like to brag. So the next time an Israeli talking head says, "We left Gaza...," I will be wondering if this talking head hails from another distant planet.
Solidarity with the Hamas regime skyrocket as Israeli confrontational policies and violent responses will be met with stubbornness on part of Hamas who until this moment has been guarding the Israeli borders and making sure no rockets are fired on the Israeli side. After this incident in the high seas, I doubt Hamas will be in a position to argue with the smaller militant groups who are hell bent on launching homemade rockets into Israel.
Other Palestinians who have been harsh critics of Hamas are now rallying around them. "We consider this to be a massacre and we condemn it," an official from Abbas' office said on Palestinian television, announcing a three-day mourning period. "We will have to take some difficult decisions this evening." This incident will have a negative impact on the struggling indirect negotiations.
Thanks to the Dubai botched assassinations and now piracy in international waters, Israeli diplomats must have their bags packed and ready to go since they do not know when they will be kicked out of a country. But a country that commits those atrocities clearly has little regard for diplomacy. Thanks to Bibi and his team of immature radicals it's really hard to be a friend of Israel right now.
This Israeli government insists on embarrassing the United States and its role as peace broker. This time by canceling a While House meeting in which the Israeli Prime Minister was to receive a warm reception in light of the recent meltdown in the relationship between Israel and the United States. The Prime Minister bragged about his call to cancel the meeting with President Obama. I am sure President Obama was thrilled to receive the call of canceling the planned Bibis' visit.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday accused Israel of committing "inhuman state terror" with its deadly raid on a fleet of aid ships bound for Gaza. I am sure the Arab street as well as the world communities are watching for Turkey's next move as they prepare to respond to the Israeli assault on their unarmed nationals. The outcome of what actions Turkey might take will not be good for Israel. Turkey now has a lot more reasons to adapt a hard line on Israel. When the Prime Minister of Turkey was pushing harder against Israel, he was alone in doing so. Now Secular in Turkey and others are rallying around him in support. No Turk can defend Israel when it's killing Turkish activists and others.
The morale in the Israeli army is low. That's why the Israeli military generals felt obligated to issue a statement calling their soldiers "brave." Brave? The fact they assaulted peace activists makes me question how brave they are or how wise their actions were. From Canada, Netanyahu also gave the military 'full backing' over the raid only to signal that Israel does not care about existing international laws or friendly ties with nations the activists come from. I really don't know what the Israeli army was thinking to pull such a stunt; the outcome of which is a classic lose-lose situation.
Al Jazeera English scored yet another win for their live coverage of the story. They followed the story until the last minute when they were forced to stop broadcasting and their crew was detained by the "brave" Israeli soldiers. While I am not a fan of Al Jazeera Arabic for their political opinions, I think the English one continues to remind American media outlets on what real journalism looks like.
Kuwait, the rich Arab Gulf States that has not been necessarily warm toward the Palestinian cause due to the PLO backing of the Iraqi invasion on their country, is now united and offering more support to the people of Palestine. Kuwait has a strong vested interest as among the activists, there are 16 Kuwaiti nationals included a parliamentarian. Now the people of Kuwait have seen Israels aggression in the first person.
Aside from the Israeli government, international law and those who believe in it are the biggest losers. As attacks on civilians in the Freedom flotilla on the sea will go unpunished. The US Congress might, in fact, even celebrate it.
I do not know what will happen next, nor do I know what violations Israel will get away with. In the past when Israel has broken a law, past Israeli governments have told the world to look the other way. This Israeli government, however, now tells the world that they should be free to assault anyone, anywhere. And of course Israel also expects an apology from their victims. This is the kind of impunity that even the world's most powerful country does not get.
With this latest incident, I am now beginning to think that if the Israeli voters went to any bar and at random picked few bar regulars then asked them to form an Israeli government, the Israeli voters then might have a better government than the one in charge of Israel right now. In the meantime my prayers goes to the families of the victims of the latest round Israelis gangster justice.