Early today Israeli Defence Forces attacked a convoy of ships carrying aid that were heading for Gaza. The details are sketchy; the IDF allegedly opened fire on the ships, wounding volunteers and damaging the vessels, and then boarded at least one ship. The IDF claim that they were attacked by people on the ships with knives, and in the ensuing shooting (there is no evidence at all that the people on board the ships had any firearms) between 10 and 20 volunteers were shot dead.
Let’s just look at this.
- First of all, this attack took place 40 miles out – that’s International Waters. Israel therefore committed an act of piracy. Even if the crew of the ship boarded did resist, I think that they were justified in repelling acts of piracy. There is no difference in what the Israelis did to what Somali pirates do.
- If the organisers of the convoy were attempting a provocation, then the Israelis have proved themselves to be singularly incompetent at dealing with provocation. Why not wait until the ships enter Israeli waters before stopping them? Why not park a destroyer across the route of the convoy to force the convoy to stop or turn?
The Israelis will now no doubt spend a lot of time claiming that it was self defence – just like the many occasions when IDF members have shot dead aid workers or reporters. Just as they did when they attacked the USS Liberty in International Waters in 1968.
There is, of course, a great irony here. The action of the British Royal Navy in stopping the SS Exodus docking at Haifa in 1947, and the subsequent sending of the refugees on board back to Europe, was a massive propaganda coup for groups like the Hagen-ah fighting for the establishment of the Jewish State. It may well be that this action by the Israelis will engender massive support for Israel. The blindness to historical irony of a country so formed by history is astonishing.
This has also been the week in which the Israeli Government have expressed their fierce resistance to the idea of a nuclear weapons free Middle east as suggested by President Obama. And let’s not go in to the business of the Israeli secret service ‘borrowing’ UK and Irish passports for the death squads to use. Not a good year for Israeli PR…
As a child and a teenager, and right through to my mid-twenties, I felt great sympathy and admiration for Israel – they successfully resisted numerous invasion attempts from Arab nations, and stood firm against terrorism. But in recent years I’m increasingly of the opinion that they’re becoming a serious threat to world peace. In fact, I’d regard their antics serious enough to get them in to the ‘rogue state’ category. Let’s face it – today’s act of piracy indicates that either the government has no control over it’s forces, or that the government has control over it’s forces and no respect for International Law.
70 years ago the world quite rightly had great sympathy for the formation of a Jewish state in the aftermath of WW2 and the Holocaust. For the last 70 years the Israelis have traded on the guilt of the Western World in letting the Nazis get away with what they did, and with Israel’s position in the Middle East as a western ally in the Cold War and more recently in the ‘War on Terror’. Well, sorry guys, the Cold War’s over, the ‘War on Terror’ is rapidly changing complexion and even becoming discredited, and you can’t guilt-trip Governments made up of people who were not even born until 20 or 30 years AFTER WW2.
From a one time supporter to Israel – please behave like a civilised member of the family of nations.
To my own Government – can we expect sanctions to be called against Israel? If not, why not?