Sunday, September 4, 2011

Flotilla hypocrisy excessive, but raid still legal - part 1

And no matter how many articles concentrating on Israel's use of "excessive force" are published, you can't change the fact that the raid was legal.

I wonder how many people actually bothered to read the 105-page report (notice the "Strictly confidential" at the top). It can easily be summarized with: The Gaza blockade is legal, the flotilla was provocative and without justification - all because Gaza won't pacify and come to negotiation tables (they prefer communication through the wonders of rocket technology). The report amazingly recognizes Israel's right to self-defense even though Gaza's legal status is undefinable.
The report reviewed the national investigations conducted by both Turkey and Israel, and then came to its own (lengthy, footnote-filled) conclusion.

Here's a little "best-of" from the report: (emphasis mine if present)
There was little need to organize a flotilla of six ships to deliver humanitarian assistance if only three were required to carry the available humanitarian supplies. The number of journalists embarked on the ships gives further power to the conclusion that the flotilla’s primary purpose was to generate publicity. 
That's what I've been telling friends since the 31st of May 2010, when I found myself to be the spokesperson of the Israeli position following the rampant ignorance flowing all around me. The flotilla was not humanitarian, it was a propaganda tool (with dubious IHH ties to boot). There was very little humanitarian cargo on three of the six ships, and quasi none on the Mavi Marmara, and it was all unnecessary given the large quantities of aid coming in regularly from Israel.
There is a further issue. No adequate port facilities exist in Gaza capable of receiving vessels of the size of the Mavi Marmara. It appears that arrangements had been made to offload the cargo onto smaller vessels at sea, which no doubt would be awkward and inefficient. Yet the flotilla rejected offers to unload any essential humanitarian supplies at other ports and have them delivered to Gaza by land. These offers were made even during the voyage. The conclusion that the primary objective of the flotilla organizers was to generate publicity by attempting to breach the blockade is further reinforced by material before the Panel that suggests that a reception for the flotilla had been arranged by Hamas.
Well, gee. Shocker, right? And since the blockade wasn't breached, Hamas didn't care so much about the so-called humanitarian aid. In fact, Hamas refused the flotilla's humanitarian aid when it was being delivered on land by Israel. Sure smells fishy...

It was foreseeable to the flotilla organizers as it was to the Turkish Government that there was a possibility of force being used against the ships to enforce the blockade. While the level of lethal force that was actually used may have been unforeseen, the organizers did anticipate that there would be an altercation with Israeli forces. The Panel is concerned that not enough was done to inform the participants in the flotilla (including the almost 600 passengers on the Mavi Marmara) of the risks of personal injury that the journey may have involved.
Are you kidding me? The participants were more than well informed, they were prepared for it, they were asking for it. Yes, there are videos of them doing so, why do you ask?

Then comes the report's main incoherence. They agree, in theory, that Israel is allowed to defend itself. But in practice, they don't agree with the method. Do they have other solutions? "Try less lethal next time". So no solutions, just empty words from people who've never been in a dangerous situation.
For Israel to maintain the blockade it had to be effective, so it must be enforced. That is a clear legal requirement for a blockade. Such enforcement may take place on the high seas and may be conducted by force if a vessel resists. To this point in the analysis no difficulty arises. But the subsequent steps taken raise serious questions as to whether the enforcement was executed appropriately in the circumstances.
Yes, because you would have taken out your magic wand and with a flick and swish said "Petrificus totalus" and the whole incident would be over.
The Panel questions whether it was reasonable for the Israeli Navy to board the vessels at the time and place that they did. [...] The distance from the blockade zone was substantial—64 nautical miles. There were several hours steaming before the blockade area would be reached. 
But - you JUST said - never mind.
Then there is the fact that the boarding attempt was made by surprise, without any immediate prior warning.
If you watch the youtube clip above, there was plenty of warning, and the boats were being shadowed for a while before they were boarded. Was the IDF supposed to forgo all tactical advantage and inform the Flotilla of their every move? Where is that written in the San Remo Manual?

Then, we get to the actual use of force on the Mavi Marmara, all that in the upcoming part 2!

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