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How Israel thwarted the second Gaza flotilla

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A pro-flotilla protest yesterday in Gaza City.(Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)

So the flotilla could turn out to be the Mideast’s non-event of the summer (unless the Palestinians do absolutely nothing in September, either in the West Bank or in Turtle Bay, in which case that will be the Mideast’s non-event of the summer). Through a combination of the legal efforts of an Israeli group called Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center; diplomatic pressure exerted (and taken credit for) by Israel on the government of Greece, which is facing a dire fiscal crisis; and the sabotage of two of the ships in the flotilla (which Israel denies having a hand in), the boats remain docked and, likely, defunct. (A small French vessel managed to sneak out, but it likely lacks the fuel to make it to Gaza.) Max Boot, who last year was a very early voice on the right condemning Israel’s tactics in enforcing its blockade, which left nine dead, points out that Israeli diplomacy additionally scored a major coup in defanging the flotilla by persuading Turkey not to tacitly endorse Flotilla 2, as it had Flotilla 1, and to get the Turkish IHH charity, which has ties to Hamas and was Flotilla 1′s ringleader, to withdraw.

Instead, Friday, activists will allegedly try to fly into Ben Gurion International. Which, let’s face it, lacks the drama of the original.

And the drama of the original—along with the tragic nine deaths—was actually the point, and the reason why Israel went to great lengths to avoid its recurrence. (It’s also why the activists declined Greece’s offer to deliver their humanitarian cargo to Gaza—with the flotilla, the medium is the message). Ethan Bronner noted over the weekend that the case for a Gaza flotilla is objectively much weaker this year than it was last. “Last year’s flotilla made a big difference for the people of Gaza—at a terrible cost in lives—by refocusing international attention on their plight and forcing a change in Israeli policy,” he noted. “Today, twice as many goods enter from Israel as before.” Gaza may be “a deeply sad and deprived place,” but, as Bronner himself reported only a week ago, it’s not as sad and deprived. In the end, Israel’s most effectual stroke of anti-flotilla hasbara was to give in to the demands of its supporters. And Flotilla 1’s victory proved Flotilla 2’s defeat.

Pro-Palestinian Activists Plan on Gaining Access to Gaza by Flying to Israel [Haaretz]
French Boat Leaves Greek Waters, but Gaza May Prove Too Far [NYT]
With Gaza Flotilla Stalled, Both Sides Claim Victory [WP]
Greece Jails U.S. Captain in Gaza Flotilla [NYT]
Report: Group Says It’s Responsible for Flotilla Complaint [JPost]
Setting Sail on Gaza’s Sea of Spin [NYT]
Israel Acting Smarter This Time [Contentions]
Related: Building Boom in Gaza’s Ruins Belies Misery That Remains [NYT]
Israel’s Gaza Flotilla Fiasco [WSJ]
On the Disappearance of Jewish Wisdom, Far Out at Sea [Goldblog]
Earlier: Israel Bites the Bait
Have Israel and Turkey Reached Détente?

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Carl says:

Remind me again, why is it tragic that nine terrorists who shot, beat and kidnapped Israeli soldiers were killed? Is it tragic to kill your enemies who are trying to kill you?

Hershel (Heshy) Ginsburg says:

A few more notable points:

a) Israel Radio just broadcast that a second boat (I believe the Swedish one) managed to leave Greece, and claims to be headed toward Gaza. Obviously the Israeli navy is following it closely.

b) If my memory serves me well, a country claiming to have imposed a blockade against a belligerent (and a Hamas-led Gaza is very much a belligerent) *MUST* enforce the blockade against all who would break the blockade. Blockade-runners can be intercepted in international waters. Failing to enforce the blockade can be legally interpreted as abdicating the blockade (there are analogous rules regarding trademarks but that is a different story).

c) The same blockade rules require that the blockading power allow humanitarian aid & civilian stuff in to the blockaded zone, after an inspection of the cargo. This option was available to the flotillas both in 2010 and 2011. BTW all of the drugs on the 2010 flotilla were found to be long-expired & hence were useless.

d) Israel’s concern all along was not the cargo on the flotillas per se, but what may be shipped to Gaza in the future were the precedent set that Israel doesn’t enforce its blockade (as a variety of useful idiots argued that Israel should do). Contrary to popular progressobabbelian belief, RPGs, Kornet anti-tank rockets (which can penetrate a Merkava IV tank’s armor and are marvelously effective against Israeli school buses) and assorted other tools of destruction DO NOT grow on trees in Gaza. They are smuggled in, and even more weapons of greater size & power would be imported if there was free access to Gaza ports.

e) The UN Palmer commission report on the 2010 flotilla reportedly comes down hard on Turkey, more so than on Israel, & highlights the Turkish gov’t connection to IHH. The Turks do not want the report released & amplified-on and so they wisely pulled the plug on the 2011 IHH flotilla.

f) Shurat HaDin seems to be the first NGO use of lawfare in support of Israel. Bless ‘em.

hg

I wish I could be as sanguine as you regarding the ‘fly-in’ planned for Friday. It would just take one Mavi Marmara-style idiot to wreak havoc at Ben-Gurion.

Hershel (Heshy) Ginsburg says:

A post-script on Greece’s motivations:

I think that Greece’s financial crisis per se has little, if anything, to do with their flotilla block. Greece’s financial future is being decided within the confines of the EU itself which doesn’t give a damn about Israel & its defense of its citizens.

Implying that Greece’s impending default caused it to back Israel so that Israel would save it from bankruptcy is to play right into the (left?) hands of the “Elders of Zion” conspiracy theorists that International Jewry control all the banks and the money & can use that power to save Greece as a quid pro quo. I am surprised to see this on Tablet but maybe I shouldn’t be.

Actually Greece & Israel have been quietly re-building their relationship for over a year now, ever since Turkey has turned Islamist & started speaking longingly the Ottoman Empire. Such talk worried Greece and as well as Israel.

After Turkey canceled the long standing policy of allowing Israeli fighter jets to practice over its territory, Greece stepped forward and offered its skies to the IDF which gratefully accepted. Contacts further cultivated relations and PM Netanyahu had an official state visit in Greece last fall. So relations with Greece have long been on the mend.

And most important, the Greek PM is scheduled for an official state visit to Israel in the very near future (I believe in the next week or two) and the last thing he wants is for the atmosphere to be poisoned a priori by making problems for Israel by letting the flotillas embark from Greek ports.

hg

jacob arnon says:

The flotilla should be called, the “kill the Jews armada.”

They are after all there to help Hamas whose mission is to kill all Jews. (Read their charter.)

The Irish crew of a flotilla ship released a photo of their propeller shaft, which had an indentation in it. Turkish investigators concluded that the indentation had been in the propeller shaft prior to the ship arriving in Greece, and that it was not necessarily sabotage.

Have you seen the photo of the propeller shaft? What is the basis for concluding the indentation was sabotage? Maybe propeller shafts can develop craters and indentations without sabotage. The Turkish government, no friend of Israel, says it may not have been sabotage.

Max Boot didn’t condemn the attack. He said it was not well handled because it played into the hands of the opposition’s PR campaign.

“Israel’s actions in boarding the flotilla of ships bound for the Gaza Strip were entirely justified and perhaps even unavoidable.

“The so-called Gaza flotilla, comprising eight ships and roughly 800 participants, was not put together by peace-loving humanitarians

“It is hard to second-guess the actions of men in combat who feel their lives are in danger, but that won’t prevent the whole world from trying.

“There are no perfect counter-tactics available, but whenever Israel does use military force it needs to be more aware of the political ramifications.

“One wonders if it wouldn’t have been possible for Israeli agents to sabotage the ships before they left port…”

shavit says:

“by refocusing international attention on their plight”

at what point was international attention not focused on Israel?

100,000 people died in Sri Lanka and no one noticed because of all that attention.

2000

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How Israel thwarted the second Gaza flotilla

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