Win-win turns into lose-lose

Well, that certainly didn’t turn out how I predicted.

Israel boarded the flotilla, as expected, though (unusually and critically) did so in international waters. I suspect that detail is going to be important. Violence ensued, with conflicting stories about who did what and when, and not only are the flotilla spokespeople’s stories conflicting with that of the IDF, each side’s story is inconsistent with itself. It should be noted that none of the passengers on the ships have been able to give their side of the story yet – so far everyone is having to rely on statements and videos released by Israel. When they are released, we will have more to go on. Undoubtedly they will be kept in detention as long as possible to ensure the Israeli side of events is given the most time possible in the public eye.

In the meantime, some key points:

  • The ships were “thoroughly searched and certified before they left port”, according to the Free Gaza Movement organiser Renee Jaouadi, and the passengers vetted. This can be checked, but even if it did happen like that, questions about the thoroughness of those procedures would always remain.
  • The flotilla was given ample opportunity by Israel to send the supplies through them instead of trying to break the blockade. This supports Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s assertion that “the sail was a provocation”, and shows that the blockade runners did not have a purely humanitarian agenda, as they claimed.
  • The IDF says two pistols were stolen from their commandos, and used against them. This corroborates the “unarmed” story of Jaouadi, and contradicts Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s assertion that “we found weapons that were prepared in advance and used against our forces”. It also begs the question, how the heck were random passengers able to steal guns off special forces??
  • Israel’s repeated statements that its blockade is legal under international law, and breaches of it illegal, are dubious at best. Incredibly, they completely negated this argument anyway by attacking in international waters, outside the blockade area. While not ‘piracy’ as defined by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, it was still an illegal boarding. That suggests that any violent action taken by the passengers is classifiable as self-defence (as claimed by Jaouadi), and the killings have no justification whatsoever.
  • Demands for an investigation are coming from many quarters, but most are merely asking Israel to investigate itself. That would be an injustice, and I join those calling for an independent inquiry.

So what I thought would be a minor incident, with the flotilla organisers getting what they want (a confrontation to highlight the plight of Palestinians ) and Israel getting what it wants (prevention of any breach of their blockade), has turned into anything but. Some foolhardy decisions have made a potential win-win into a lose-lose, at least for those injured and killed. At a more abstract level, it can be viewed as a victory for the flotilla organisers, because their hoped-for confrontation went beyond anything they anticipated. If they did want to have a violent encounter, Israel played right into their hands.

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9 Responses to Win-win turns into lose-lose

  1. Kavit says:

    As far as the second point in your list is concerned, I think there is a general lack of trust towards Israel and its efforts to disburse aid. There were also people on board the flotilla who were trying to return home to Gaza from Turkey after being refused entry by Israel.

    I saw an Al-Jazeera interview of a former Gaza resident who wanted to return to his family after being flown to Turkey a few years ago for medical reasons. There were several cases like that.

    I am not taking sides here. I want to hear from the people on the boat.

  2. Legal Eagle says:

    Sensible post, Jarrah. I need to know more information before I decide anything. Prima facie it doesn’t look good, but we’ll wait and see. I’d want to weigh up the evidence from both sides.

  3. Jarrah says:

    Kavit, you are right – quite a bit of the supplies carried by the flotilla would not have been allowed in. It’s one of the disgraceful aspects of the blockade that building materials are forbidden, especially after Operation Cast Lead destroyed a bunch of buildings!

    LE, wait and see is a good approach. Unfortunately, it seems very few people are doing that.

    Also, I might be wrong (or at least jumped the gun) about the jurisdiction. I’m yet to see any definitive answers to what I feel is a crucial question.

  4. john walker says:

    The latest report I have read is that the commandos principle armament was “paint ball guns”- they were not expecting an armed response by the people on the boat. If this is true, then it sounds like there was a bit of an intelligence failure .

  5. Jarrah says:

    “they were not expecting an armed response by the people on the boat.”

    There are conflicting accounts.

  6. john walker says:

    “There are conflicting accounts”. It is the Mid east
    I have not seen any further reporting , regarding the actual ‘weapon’ actually carried in the hands of the commandos when they landed on the deck, have you?
    It, ‘paint ball guns’ doesn’t exactly sound like the IDF of old, but … who knows?

  7. Jarrah says:

    I haven’t read anything definitive, but there are suggestions they were firing pellets filled with tear gas analogue. Regardless, they weren’t the only weapons used. People died from gunshot wounds.

  8. john walker says:

    Only point is this , a glock pistol is a very effective weapon- if it is actually in the hand.
    It sounds like the side arms were in their holsters.
    At very close quarters cutting /bludgeon weapons can be actually as good or even better than guns.
    Paint balls of tear gas would be unlikely to work quickly enough on an opponent that is very close and very determined.

  9. JC says:

    There are conflicting accounts.

    It’s war fucking warzone.

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