“When we use violence, we help Israel win international support,” said Aziz Dweik, a leading Hamas lawmaker in the West Bank. “The Gaza flotilla has done more for Gaza than 10,000 rockets.”
Hamas and Hezbollah, the Islamist movement in Lebanon that has been fighting Israel since the early 1980s, haven’t renounced violence and both groups continue to amass arms. Hamas still abides by a charter that calls for Israel’s destruction; Palestinian youths still hurl rocks at Israeli soldiers across the West Bank separation barrier. And the flotilla incident didn’t fall into conventional standards of peaceful protest: While most activists passively resisted Israeli soldiers, some on the boat where protesters were killed attacked commandos as they boarded, according to video footage released by Israel and soldiers’ accounts.
The incident triggered international condemnation and plunged Israel into one of its worst diplomatic crises in years. In response, Israel said it would take some steps to ease its blockade on the Gaza Strip.
After the incident, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on supporters to participate in the next flotilla bound for Gaza. Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of the Hezbollah politburo in Beirut, said it was the first time Mr. Nasrallah had forcefully and publicly embraced such tactics against Israel.
“We saw that this kind of resistance has driven the Israelis into a big plight,” he said. Organizers in Lebanon say they have two ships ready to sail, but no departure date has been set.
That line about Hamas et al. not renouncing violence is an important one. But the adjustments in strategy are interesting, at the least.