Israel is receiving international condemnation of its raid on a ship bringing supplies to Gaza. The Wall Street Journal reports Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has argued that “the blockade of the Palestinian territory is necessary to prevent missile attacks against Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.” (“Israel’s Isolation Deepens,” http://online.wsj.com/article, 6/2/2010). That may be true, but it is not at all relevant to the criticism that Israel used inappropriate force in stopping the ship and killing ten civilians.
How many ways are there to stop a blockade-busting attempt? You can warn the invaders; apparently that was done to no avail. You can physically block them with other ships, or rafts, or other barriers. You could allow your own boats to be damaged by the invader, demonstrating provocation. You can tow the other guys away. You could tear gas the crew. You could ram their boat. You could tangle their propellers with nets.
Is it necessary to board the ship and kill everyone? What kind of thinking is that?
This incident betrays a far deeper problem than a diplomatic “incident” from a mishandled operation. It may demonstrate that the Israeli military is not really under civilian control. The military seems to be blinded by bloodlust, (as demonstrated by inappropriate use of force this time, and in the past), so let’s hope it is not generous to assume that cooler heads exist in the civilian government.
From Netanyahu’s remarks, there is some doubt about that. Naturally, it is his job to defend the action. But if we take his irrelevant defense at face value, it shows that he hasn’t got a clue.
He refuses to apologize “for defending ourselves.” He blames the Obama administration for encouraging others to gang up on Israel. He blames Hamas for shooting rockets into Israel. He says Israel has a right to inspect cargo going into Gaza. He reiterates his claim that there is no shortage of food or medicine and no humanitarian crisis in Gaza (http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/middle-east/Israel-PM-Defends-Deadly-Raid-on-Aid-Convoy-95435204.html) . He asserts that this is not an issue of human rights and not even an issue of right vs. wrong.
Can he really be that stupid to not understand what the international outrage is about? I don’t know anything about him personally, but it is hard to believe that he is stupid. So the alternative interpretation is that he is boxed in by the military and can say nothing else. I would rather have a stupid person in charge than nobody in charge, or worse, have an autonomous military in charge there.