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The Flotilla Fiasco (Update)

John on May 31, 2010 at 3:17 pm

No matter how you feel about Israel or Gaza, this is not a good situation. Der Spiegel summarizes the problem:

The pro-Palestinian organizers had described the fleet with which they had hoped to break through the Israeli sea blockade of the Gaza Strip on Monday morning as a “humanitarian aid convoy.” But as the Israeli army stormed the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, the activists they encountered were in no way exclusively docile peaceniks. Some of the “peace activists” received the Israelis with crow bars and sling shots. Some of the self-professed “human rights activists” reportedly even tore the weapons from soldiers and began to shoot.

That’s not what a peaceful protest looks like.

But the reaction from Israel, a state which proclaims to adhere to the rule of law, was far from appropriate. Regardless how prepared to engage in violence the organizers of the ship convoy might have been: With at least 15 dead, all on the side of the activists, and more than 30 injured, some seriously, one thing is certain: Israel carelessly threw one of the most important principles of the application of military violence overboard: the proportionality of military force.

Ironically, Israel’s determination to avoid violence may have been the cause of so many deaths. Soldiers landed on the ship with paintball guns. A more overwhelming show of force might have convinced the mob that it wasn’t worth the risk to physically attack the commandos. As it is, the commandos were beaten until they had no choice but to begin firing.

None of this changes the fact that there is a different standard for Israel than for every other nation on earth. The Iranians stole an election and shot and beat protesters in the streets. And what did the world community do about that? The North Koreans sand a South Korean ship just last month. What did the UN do about that?

Unfortunately, Israel is always held to a higher standard.

Update 6/1: I suggested part of the problem was that Israel did not arrive with an overwhelming show of force. The IDF agrees:

Israel will use more aggressive force in the future to prevent ships from breaking the sea blockade on the Gaza Strip, a top Navy commander told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

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Category: Foreign Affairs |

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