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England - Analysis: Israel Had No Choice Over Gaza Flotilla

Published on: June 1, 2010 02:51 PM
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he Israeli Navy during the take over of the Gaza-bound Flottila aid ships from Turkey. Photo by Moti Milrod/Pool/Flash90. he Israeli Navy during the take over of the Gaza-bound Flottila aid ships from Turkey. Photo by Moti Milrod/Pool/Flash90.

England - The tragic events of Monday morning are, rightly, sending shockwaves around the world – but blaming the IDF alone for the carnage flies in the face of the facts. Video footage from an on-board news agency clearly shows a premeditated attack on Israeli soldiers, with activists using iron bars and other weapons to assault the troops and giving the IDF carte blanche to respond with force against them.

That there was a Nobel peace prize laureate on board is irrelevant. That there were electric-powered wheelchairs among the cargo is irrelevant. That Gazans are suffering immensely from the years’-old siege of their land is unpalatable and unfortunate – but also irrelevant in the context of this particular incident. Israel had given countless warnings to the activists not to proceed with their trip without first allowing the freight on their ships to be checked; Israel had repeatedly offered to allow the aid in as long as the activists handed it over to the army to be inspected.

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At the same time, those supposedly bringing “aid” to the people of Gaza have form for using alleged acts of humanitarianism as cover for weapons smuggling – and Israel has every right to defend its own citizens from the consequences of such illicit transfer of arms. There is not a country on earth that would not take similar steps to protect its people; there is not an army on earth that would not allow its soldiers to respond with force to neutralise a life-threatening attack on their fellow troops.

The activists who launched the vicious assault on the boarding soldiers knew full well what they were doing. They had issued threat after threat against the IDF in the days building up to this morning’s clash, with convoy organiser Huwaida Arraf brashly declaring his group’s unwavering dedication to reaching Gaza: “They are going to have to forcefully stop us.” Club-wielding assailants might not fit the cute and cuddly image of stereotypical aid workers, but there can be no doubt from the evidence that those attacking the Israeli forces were not the archetype of calm and measured peace activists.

One of the first diplomatic reactions to the deadly affair came from Murat Mercan, a lawmaker from Turkey’s ruling party: “I was expecting an intervention. I was not expecting bloodshed, the use of arms and bullets.” The official Turkish line is that Israel has behaved in an “unacceptable” fashion, yet – unsurprisingly – not one Turkish politician has had the honesty or courage to lay an iota of blame at the feet of the ultra-violent activists. Without such a sustained attack on the troops, Mercan’s predictions of a blood-free intervention would have come to pass: but he, like many others in his position, prefers not to dwell on such minor details if it means having to concede even an inch of ground to the Israelis.

Reports have surfaced claiming that an activist tore a soldier’s machine gun from his grasp and used it to shoot him with: what might have seemed a far-fetched story spun to improve the IDF’s standing over the attack is given far more credence when considered in the context of quite how savagely numerous activists greeted the arrival of the troops on to the ship. Those on board the ship had ample opportunity to defuse the situation in the days and hours leading up to the commandos’ arrival: instead, they decided that violence was the best way to play their hand, and given their intransigence, there was only ever going to be one outcome.

In the wider political context, Israel’s government and army are clearly at fault over a myriad of issues, as are the leaders and politicians of Hamas – but what took place aboard the Freedom flotilla must be viewed in isolation in terms of the violence from both sides, rather than used as yet another rod with which to beat Israel simply because it suits certain parties to do so.

The immediate response of hundreds of civilians in Turkey – attacking consulates, fighting with local police – is another example of the resorting-to-violence mob’s myopic behaviour that so impedes efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine imbroglio using peaceful and diplomatic means. Violence is the stock in trade of extremists on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian war: settlers and soldiers on one side, militants and terror leaders on the other; pretending that the violence emanates from the Israeli side only is a spurious and senseless way to paint the picture.

When Israel’s wrongs are brought to light, they deserve condemnation as much as those of the Palestinians, but that does not mean automatically that in any situation the default position ought to be Israel is guilty until proven innocent. In the case of the Freedom flotilla, Israel made repeated efforts during recent weeks to assist the activists in their mission and avoid bloodshed.

Even during the raid, troops did not fire on those on board at first, instead simply trying to go about their business of inspecting the cargo. When they were attacked with venomous force by the activists, they were left with no choice but to respond in kind. Those are the only facts that matter here, and all the kneejerk Israel-hating in the world won’t absolve the activist aggressors from their share of guilt for the horrific events that unfolded today.

Seth Freedman  is a former IDF soldier and writer living in Jerusalem


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1

 Jun 01, 2010 at 03:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Couldn't have said it better myself.

2

 Jun 01, 2010 at 03:19 PM Come on Says:

Seth got this one right.
The only problem is that he is a self-hating left-wing Jew and he thinks that the Israeli government is equal to terrorist Hamas. Other than that, I would have a beer with this guy.

3

 Jun 01, 2010 at 03:21 PM Loshon Hora Says:

Interesting the Guardian would print this,let us see how long it will stay up online though.

4

 Jun 01, 2010 at 03:28 PM eli Says:

well put

5

 Jun 01, 2010 at 03:33 PM David Says:

Israel was fully within its rights to stop the flotilla, and fully within its rights to use force as needed. Indeed, allowing ships laden with who-knows-what to enter Hamas-controlled Gaza without even attempting to check their contents would have been suicidal folly on Israel's part. Having said all that, I can't help wonder what the Israelis were thinking when they dropped those commandos, single-file, onto that ship armed with paint-ball guns. Seriously, folks-- paint-ball guns? Did it never occur to you that people trying to bring goodies for Hamas might be capable of violence?

6

 Jun 01, 2010 at 03:39 PM Former Arab Says:

Don't confuse me with the facts.

Israel is at fault as is evidenced from the thousands protesting all around the world. The U.N. has condemned the actions and even Turkey - a NATO member state - called it a "massacre".

What else does it take to prove that what Israel did is state sponsored terrorism?

Wake up!

7

 Jun 01, 2010 at 03:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Come on Says:

Seth got this one right.
The only problem is that he is a self-hating left-wing Jew and he thinks that the Israeli government is equal to terrorist Hamas. Other than that, I would have a beer with this guy.

I agree with you on this, it seemed a pretty fair read until the statement about violence and extremism on both sides.
Sorry, but the two sides simply cannot be compared in this regard. Not even close.
The 'other' side is constantly waiting for something, somewhere in the world, that enrages them - a cartoon, a news article, western values, Etc. - and they are always ready to spring into action - demonstrations, riots, murders, Etc. (Yet amazingly successfully playing the victim).
This is something which is simply not found by 'our' side, so the comparison is deplorable. Any Jewish extremism is such a novelty that it gets immediate worldwide attention, a fact in of itself which proves the contrast between the two sides.

8

 Jun 01, 2010 at 03:59 PM Avi Says:

Reply to #2  
Come on Says:

Seth got this one right.
The only problem is that he is a self-hating left-wing Jew and he thinks that the Israeli government is equal to terrorist Hamas. Other than that, I would have a beer with this guy.

If you are basing your opinion on this one article, you are a blind bigot, easily on par with the worst anti-Semite. Believing Israel can do no wrong and that it never deserves criticism is the worst folly. It contributes directly to the never-ending stand-off we have today.

As for the story in general -- I think Israel should have sunk the entire flotilla and made sure no rescue was available for the passengers.

9

 Jun 01, 2010 at 04:04 PM Yonason Herschlag Says:

What is this crap in equating "settlers and soldiers on one side, militants and terror leaders on the other"?!!!

pretending that the violence emanates from the Israeli side AT ALL is a spurious and senseless way to paint the picture.

10

 Jun 01, 2010 at 04:18 PM Anonymous Says:

This self ahting Jew, although he realised and (probably forcefully) admitted to the fact that Israel was 100% Right, he still equates the IDF and HAMAS. BTW, he (and the others like him) is prcisely the reason Israel is suffering such defeat lately. They try to pander and appease those left wing vicious self hating suicidal maniacs. If ISRAEL would send these people to hell things would look alot different.

Show me ONE ARAB IN THE ENTIRE WORLD which EVER spaeks out against A/T thier arab terrorist brothers/partners do. NOT ONE!!!! On the other hand can we even count how many self hating Jews we possess???

11

 Jun 01, 2010 at 05:05 PM Come on Says:

Reply to #8  
Avi Says:

If you are basing your opinion on this one article, you are a blind bigot, easily on par with the worst anti-Semite. Believing Israel can do no wrong and that it never deserves criticism is the worst folly. It contributes directly to the never-ending stand-off we have today.

As for the story in general -- I think Israel should have sunk the entire flotilla and made sure no rescue was available for the passengers.

Avi,
I did not say that israel can do no wrong. I have also read Perfidy and I do not delude myself into thinking that Israel, who is run by Mechallelei Shabbos Befarhesia secular Jews, is always right, what I said was that it is abominable to equate baby killing Hamas with the IDF. Other than that, I Agree with your comments and would also have a beer with you.

12

 Jun 01, 2010 at 05:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Former Arab Says:

Don't confuse me with the facts.

Israel is at fault as is evidenced from the thousands protesting all around the world. The U.N. has condemned the actions and even Turkey - a NATO member state - called it a "massacre".

What else does it take to prove that what Israel did is state sponsored terrorism?

Wake up!

????? Duh!!! ?????

You really made me laugh today

13

 Jun 01, 2010 at 05:26 PM The Israeli Government is liable Says:

Sorry but this time Israel dig its own grave, they sent their most elite unit to be slaughtered, to show the world that Israel is not guilty (every thing they do is that the world should think this and not think that) they literally sent them to get killed, they gave them paintball guns!!! it was all a political move, to show the "world", we mean no harm, to get world "brownie points". The soldiers were scared to open fire, not because there were not in a life threatening situation,but they were scared what the "world" would say, so they rather get beaten up, so that Israel should have a good PR, how pathetic. and I am not surprised, if those soldiers that were shooting will go to jail, because they used their weapon as self defense, it happened before in Israel, I don`t see why it can`t happen again, the Government is messed up.

14

 Jun 01, 2010 at 05:43 PM Anonymous Says:

The hammas are dancing right now that these people were killed. If it were up to the hammas they wish the whole flotilla would have been bombed, knowing it will make israel look bad.
Hammas will keep on encouraging the "humanitariums" hoping that they keep getting stopped, imjured, or killed.

15

 Jun 01, 2010 at 05:55 PM Voice of reason Says:

When will anti-Zionist Jews realize that we are now all in the same boat? No matter what the Jewish state does, or what Jews do, we are vilified.

There are tens of thousands of brave Jewish soldiers and security personnel who risk their lives on an almost daily basis--to protect all Jews, and other citizens, in the State of Israel.

These brave men and women deserve our thanks, not snide remarks about someone being mechalel Shabbos--and comparisons to Nazis by some in the Neturei Karta and Satmar sects. To incite hatred again our fellow Jews, during such a time, is simply unforgivable.

My father and both of my wife's parents witnessed and were victimized by the Nazis. We had no commandos then. We had no army. Now that the Jews have an army, let's support it in its time of need. Let's do everything we can to say "thank you" to those who serve.

16

 Jun 01, 2010 at 06:33 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #6  
Former Arab Says:

Don't confuse me with the facts.

Israel is at fault as is evidenced from the thousands protesting all around the world. The U.N. has condemned the actions and even Turkey - a NATO member state - called it a "massacre".

What else does it take to prove that what Israel did is state sponsored terrorism?

Wake up!

Thousands protesting around the world only means that thousands are Jew haters who believe like you that Israel has no right to defend itself. Let's start from here; does Israel have a right to defend itself? Yes or no?

If this is a massacre then tell me, what would you call Turkey's towing the Struma with 768 Jewish men women and children on board into the Black Sea and abandoning it on February 23, 1942?

See (http://holocaust-forum.blogspot.com/2010/02/ship-struma-was-sunk-killing-768-men.html)

You're not confused, only you refuse to see the truth. You have a lot of company, millions around the world believe faithfully like you.

17

 Jun 01, 2010 at 06:36 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #9  
Yonason Herschlag Says:

What is this crap in equating "settlers and soldiers on one side, militants and terror leaders on the other"?!!!

pretending that the violence emanates from the Israeli side AT ALL is a spurious and senseless way to paint the picture.

They suffer of this equalizing sickness. They feel that if they criticize the Arabs they must in the same breath criticize Israelis.

18

 Jun 01, 2010 at 06:38 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

????? Duh!!! ?????

You really made me laugh today

I would laugh too, but when I realize how many Jews believe like him I want to cry.

19

 Jun 01, 2010 at 07:37 PM #6 Says:

Askupeh,

I guess I should have added:


But on the other hand this is actually the mindset of your average Muslim out there, regardless of the hypocrisy.
Yet the democratic world - headed by Obama - is buying into this nonesense.

20

 Jun 01, 2010 at 08:20 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Avi Says:

If you are basing your opinion on this one article, you are a blind bigot, easily on par with the worst anti-Semite. Believing Israel can do no wrong and that it never deserves criticism is the worst folly. It contributes directly to the never-ending stand-off we have today.

As for the story in general -- I think Israel should have sunk the entire flotilla and made sure no rescue was available for the passengers.

You are contradicting yourself.

21

 Jun 01, 2010 at 09:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Former Arab Says:

Don't confuse me with the facts.

Israel is at fault as is evidenced from the thousands protesting all around the world. The U.N. has condemned the actions and even Turkey - a NATO member state - called it a "massacre".

What else does it take to prove that what Israel did is state sponsored terrorism?

Wake up!

a "FORMER" arab? What in heavens name are you now..... a nazi? The UN and "even Turkey"? Where exactly do you put your faith or your brains for that matter? In murderers and their supporters I would rightly conclude.

22

 Jun 01, 2010 at 11:58 PM westcoastsol Says:

I read all of these statements and I can't for the life of me figure out where all of these people are coming from. you praise these terrorist and condemn Israel. Before you speak go live among the arabs in their lands and go live in Israel to get to know them also. After you learn about both peoples I would surely like to hear your opinion. Just remember if you are in Saudi Arabia don't let them know you are a Christian as there is no freedom of religion and if you are a female make sure you are dressed according to there dress codes. In Israel you may worship as you please and dress any way you so desire as we don't have clothing police that will beat you if your head is not covered. have a good time in Gaza!P.S. if you are a female make sure that you wear a chasity belt. good luck

23

 Jun 02, 2010 at 01:20 AM formally Says:

the main problem is that most people are morons.

They look at this event and make a decision without learning or knowing the history of the area.

a. The Palestinians people and their government can ease their problem very simply.
By stating and with some action that Israel has a right to exist live peacefully in this area . They choose not to do that.
b, were were all the humanitarians when other Arab and Muslim countries killed abused massacred Palestinians and other Muslim numbers that Israel cannot even imagine. take one case Syria 200,000. that one case is more than 100 times how many Arabs, Israel killed since their existence
c. why do they not speak up when Hamas was oppressing their own people.
d. why did they not offer humanitarian aid to Israel when there e where suicide becoming
e. where where these people after 9/11.

If these people did protest the above cases and did humanitarian aid to Israel I would have some respect for them but they did not.

I do not think that it is all about antisemitism because these same people get all upset when the USA does similar actions that Israel does.

24

 Jun 02, 2010 at 06:29 AM Shlomo Says:

Reply to #6  
Former Arab Says:

Don't confuse me with the facts.

Israel is at fault as is evidenced from the thousands protesting all around the world. The U.N. has condemned the actions and even Turkey - a NATO member state - called it a "massacre".

What else does it take to prove that what Israel did is state sponsored terrorism?

Wake up!

Public opinion is not evidence.
Although Turkey would know something of illegal occupations...just look at Cyprus (oh, right, only Israeli "occupations" are "illegal." I'll try to remember not to confuse you with the facts).

What will it take to prove it is "state sponsored terrorism?" How about the fact that these were actual troops? Israel, unlike Syria and Iran, is not hiding behind non-state proxies. And the troops used non-lethal force until confronted with lethal force (paint ball guns!). Hmmm, wasn't it Hamas that launched thousands of missiles (not the paint ball-type) at Israeli civilians? Non-state actor, supported by another country, illegal force, aimed at a civilian population in order to create terror! Now, what would you call that?

Go back to sleep.

25

 Jun 02, 2010 at 09:34 AM Anonymous Says:

Hamas and Turkey acted in concert / together. Turkey could have stopped the ship at any time. It did not. The ship was flying a Turkish flag. They wanted this to happen!!

26

 Jun 02, 2010 at 11:51 AM Anonymous Says:

The very fact that a ship alleged to be carrying "humanitarian aid" had on board hundreds of "activists" most of whom are neither Israeli or arab tells you all you need to know.
Provocation is a valid defence both in halocho and, believe it or not, secular and international law.
E.G. The invasion and, otherwise illegal, occupation of Iraq.
How many civlians died in that invasion which the US and its allies had the chutzpa to call a war.

27

 Jun 02, 2010 at 12:05 PM Simcha Says:

why doesn't every Shul in america make the mishebeirach for the tzahal? weather or not you like the gov cant you see the soldiers (doing God's work) are protecting your brothers and sisters?

28

 Jun 02, 2010 at 12:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #27  
Simcha Says:

why doesn't every Shul in america make the mishebeirach for the tzahal? weather or not you like the gov cant you see the soldiers (doing God's work) are protecting your brothers and sisters?

I'll say refueinu that the Israeli government have a refuah sheleima and not be sick in their head in sending Israeli soldiers to get killed. They should have sunk the ship instead.

29

 Jun 02, 2010 at 03:14 PM mendoza Says:

Reply to #6  
Former Arab Says:

Don't confuse me with the facts.

Israel is at fault as is evidenced from the thousands protesting all around the world. The U.N. has condemned the actions and even Turkey - a NATO member state - called it a "massacre".

What else does it take to prove that what Israel did is state sponsored terrorism?

Wake up!

u sound like a former satmar cusid . , becuse yr so off the map of earth ,

30

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