Maintaining the siege and blockade of Gaza (because its citizens elected a government Israeli abhors), and strafing it with military might over a year ago, is not exactly what one expects of a civilized Western state. To then go on the offensive against a flotilla of aid ships, trying to bypass the blockade, and killing at least ten people aboard is bordering on insanity. This meretricious act of violence - like the brutal assault on Gaza itself - has further isolated Israel from what friends and allies it still has. The Turkish government has called this "inhumane state terror":
Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cut short a visit to Latin America to return home. ... Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs, called for a full inquiry into the incident and the immediate lifting of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. ... President Nicolas Sarkozy of France called Israel’s use of force 'disproportionate,' while William Hague, the British foreign secretary, said he deplored the loss of life. ... News reports said the authorities in Egypt and Jordan, two Arab neighbors which have peace treaties with Israel, had summoned Israeli envoys to protest the action.
You can see some early footage here. The white flag had allegedly been raised after two people had been killed. So, according to the eye-witness al Jazeera reporter on board, Israel's military killed perhaps a dozen civilians on an unarmed ship after a white flag had been raised. If this were not Netanyahu's government, I'd be more skeptical. But we know what his government is, what it believes, and what it is prepared to do. Mercifully, Netanyahu will not be meeting with president Obama this week. The attack took place far away from Gaza and was defended by the Israelis as self-defense:
Israel's military said that protesters managed to grab two guns from Israeli soldiers and use them against the commandos, prompting soldiers to return fire.An Israeli commando, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he and other Israeli soldiers who rappelled onto the boat from a helicopter were immediately attacked by about 30 people on board.
"They beat us up with metal sticks and knives," he said. "There was live fire at some point against us. ... They were shooting at us from below deck."
He said activists tossed some of the soldiers from the top deck to the lower deck and the soldiers jumped in the water to save themselves. Activists grabbed some soldiers and tried to hold them hostage, stripping them of their helmets and equipment, he said.
Protestors managed to grab two guns from Israeli soldiers? Really? And the result is possibly up to 16 dead, according to the LA Times? The Coalition government in Britain issued the following statement:
“Regardless of any reasoning, such actions against civilians engaged in only peaceful activities are unacceptable. Israel will be required to face the consequences of this act that involves violation of the international law.”
Amen. And the attack took place in international waters. We should find out more details soon. But it looks to me as if the Israeli government has again replied to a gnat with a bazooka. The disproportionate use of force, the loss of life, the horrifying impact of the blockade of Gaza in the first place: it makes Israel look like a callous, deranged bully, incapable of accepting any narrative that it cannot control and responding instinctively with disproportionate violence.
The suicide continues ... and US aid to Israel, especially military aid, should be suspended until the Israeli government starts acting like something other than a rogue state.