Twelve hours after Israeli Naval commandoes stormed ships carrying humanitarian aid into Gaza, the Israeli government has released video footage of the event that has now become an international debacle.
While most of the six ships organized by the Free Gaza Movement surrendered peacefully to the navy, passengers on one ship offered violent resistance, and the results were tragic: Israeli commandos opened fire and killed at least nine Turkish nationals, and two Israelis were seriously wounded.
It is far too early to draw conclusions about what happened to provoke this tragedy and why, as not all the facts are in. But the Israeli government-released footage, seen here, does purport to show the beginnings and aftermath of a protest meant to turn violent. The video has not been independently verified. Here is an embed version, without the Hebrew commentary:
But without drawing conclusions, there is ample room for questions. Perhaps the most obvious arises from a line embedded toward the bottom of a newspaper report on the incident: Israel intends to deliver the 10,000 pounds of humanitarian aid by truck to Gaza once the contents are inspected. In other words, the material would have arrived in Gaza anyway. Israel prevented the ships because they saw it as a political provocation.
Danny Ayalon, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, described the flotilla as a “provocation” and said it was a political stunt. “The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent and the results were unfortunately violent,” said Ayalon.
All of which raises these questions:
1. Why not inspect the cargo in Turkey or at sea and allow the protesters through? Eventually the delivery of free stuff stops being news, and the money dries up.
2. Where was the vaunted Israeli intelligence to prepare soldiers for the consitions they would face on board?
3. To what extent were Turkish officials briefed and warned beforehand?
4. Why is Israel protecting its blockade of Gaza, when it should be protecting Israel? In other words, if the goal is to keep weapons out, why not inspect the cargo for weapons, then let it through.
5. Finally, the questions that keeps arising—If the number one existential threat to Israel is Iran’s nuclear capability, as Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli government and American Jewish leaders have been saying for years, why take actions which weaken Israel’s ability to build exactly the kind of international coalition necessary to stop Iran?