Netanyahu on the Hill

by Aaron Wherry

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on Parliament Hill this morning to meet with the Prime Minister, but a news conference, previously scheduled to take place at 11:15am, as well as an evening reception have been cancelled so that Mr. Netanyahu can return to Israel.

The PMO has issued the following statement on this morning’s flotilla raid.

Canada deeply regrets the loss of life and the injuries suffered. We are currently looking for more information in order to shed light on what exactly happened.




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Netanyahu on the Hill

  1. The photo-op – cameras only- is proceeding.

  2. While Harper and Bibi are airkissing each other for the cameras – one has to wonder if Bibi's invitation to Washington was "withdrawn" pending a more credible explanation the the Israeli spokesperson from back in Tel Aviv was presenting this morning…"they attacked us…" – yep – in the middle of international waters – when helicopters hover over sovereign ships flying the flag of a NATO country – and rappel crack paratroopers onto the decks of said ships…the people on board of the invaded vessels "attacked them…" Sheesh!

    • Yeah, there's a lot of details yet to surface, but initial reports sound like the Israelis may have really crossed the line this time.

      • You should have stopped at :

        "Yeah, there's a lot of details yet to surface"

        • I'm comfortable with what I wrote.

      • Ynet has a detailed account.

        This particular ship and men looking for a fight. The Isrealies started with paintball type guns, were swarmed, beaten, had their sidearms taken, recieved shots from those on board,

        and then the order to use live ammo was given.

        Yes, yes, among some, the Isrealis are always crossing the line.

        Those who vow Israel's destruction? Not too many lines crossed there.

        BTW, try to imagine what a real "attack" from the IDF would have looked like had that been their intention.

        • Gee did these "paintball guns" produce blood red paint?

          • No, I think most of the red initially was Israeli blood, as the soldiers were beaten (and stabbed, and shot) pretty severely before they switched to live ammo.

            You may not believe that they started with non-lethal force (the paintball guns), but I for one just can't believe that that many commandos would take that bad of a beating, if they'd been using live ammo from the start. Nor do I believe that a bunch of "unarmed civilians" could disarm several Israeli commandos, and turn their own sidearms against them, if said commandos were using live ammo from the start. Some of those commandos barely make it on to the deck of the ship. One of them is THROWN OFF THE BOAT by a group of passengers. Several don't even stay on their feet for an instant before they're felled by metal bars and sticks. Civilians, even a large group of aroused civilians with sticks and metal pipes, just don't tend to fare so well against trained Israeli commandos who are actually firing real bullets.

            If the argument is that the Israeli commandos were using live rounds from the beginning of the attack, someone's going to need to explain to me the video of one of them being thrown off the boat. 'Cause I don't believe for a second that an armed Israeli commando cleared to use live rounds gets thrown over the side of a boat in open waters by a bunch of unarmed "peace advocates".

        • Gosh, there's a fair bit of opinion on Ynet that's intensely critical of the Israeli handling of the incident. I think you're jumping to conclusions before all the information is available.

          Also: "among some, the Isrealis are always crossing the line. Those who vow Israel's destruction?"

          You don't have to meet either of these criteria in order to express concern about the actions of the IDF in this one instance. Please lay off the rightwing extremism.

        • "This particular ship and men looking for a fight. "

          Yes, clearly. They used their gravity ray to drag the Israeli choppers into range, then drapped the helpless commandos into the ship.

          • "They used their gravity ray to drag the Israeli choppers into range…"

            No. They used deliberate breach of a blockade, which they knew would result in the response they got.

    • I still can't believe that they would have been so bold as to invade a vessel in international waters. What the hell were they thinking?

      • I presume they were thinking that their blockade is legal.

        That's debatable perhaps, but discussion elsewhere in this thread does seem to indicate that if the blockade is legal, then so is boarding a vessel in international waters that you reasonably believe is going to try to run the blockade (based on, say, a press release from the group that essentially says "Hey, look at us, our primary intention with this flotilla is to run the Israeli blockade").

  3. Nice of the US to write Harper's speech for him:

    "…"The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy," said White House spokesman William Burton…"
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/un-

    • Ok so I didn't dream this. They actually copied the WH's press statement…

  4. Netanyahu has given his full support to the IDF in a media statement, so that must mean he's ready to answer questions. Does that mean he was aware of, and provided his approval for the planned raid before it occurred?

    Perhaps he could share some information, like for instance were any Canadians in the flotilla? And did our prime minister ask why he is in support of an act of piracy in attacking the flotilla in international waters under cover of darkness?

    This could be important in establishing responsibility at the Hague. You can't just kill a dozen people in international waters, no matter how many had clubs or slingshots. If the prime minister approved the raid, then he's the one that should answer for war crime charges.

  5. Wasn't Turkey one of Israel's few allies in the region? This can't help things.

  6. Re the American and Canadian statements — basically, both governments are playing for time as we figure out just what the heck happened.

    Which is what smart diplomats do. The immediate reaction isn't necessarily the one you have once you have heard the whole story.

      • Gosh, armed attackers in the middle of the night…and they get hit with chairs and poles.

        Well…that justifies murder these days I guess.

        • When you're running a naval blockade, have told the blockading forces that you're pushing ahead in spite of their requests that you divert your course, are boarded, and then swarm the boarding party and beat it up — it's not very surprising that, after a certain amount of time, said boarding party will open fire.

          It's not _good_ — the Israelis were _stupid_ to go in expecting only a bunch of non-violent peace activists — but the chain of events is not at all surprising.

          • I can't blame the activists nor the soldiers for defending themselves. Haaretz.com asks some interesting questions…

            "Tactics. What prompted the decision to stop the flotilla by force – what course of action was presented to the politicians who made the decision and what analysis was made of the consequences of using live fire in any confrontation?

            Were there any dissenting views, was there anyone how pointed to the inevitable damage to Israel from any operational failure? What steps were taken to forestall an escalation?

            Alternatives. Was any effort made to stop the flotilla through diplomacy, or through negotiation and compromise with its organizers? Or did the government rush headlong into a confrontation, without any thought for the alternatives? Was there anyone who advocated letting the boats through to Gaza, rather than making them a test of Israel's sovereignty and might?"

            -link

          • From what I've read, it looks like the activists were set on testing the blockade, come what may.

            Israel probably should have been willing to concede a few points — maybe offer to pre-inspect in Turkish ports some of the ships or to inspect them at sea, and escort in ones certified as contraband free (i.e. let in only food and non-dual use medical supplies for humanitarian purposes). Failing that, they should have been prepared for a moderately violent reception when boarding — if they had gone in with a proper collection of weapons and armour, and the appropriate battle plan, they might have been able to avoid most of those injuries and deaths.

            My guess is no-one would have been for simply letting the boats through — as there's no telling what a future convoy would contain — but a middle ground should have been pitched, and if pitched, be seen to have been pitched.

          • Wait, middle ground had been pitched: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeq

            [Israeli foreign ministry head] Gal suggested the organisers should voluntarily head to Ashdod to unload the supplies so Israel or humanitarian agencies can deliver them to Gaza overland.

            But the flotilla organisers rejected the offer.

            "We are taking 10,000 tonnes of material that Israel refuses to allow into Gaza," Berlin said. The cargo included water filtration units, pre-fabricated homes and crayons for children, she added.

            "This mission is not about delivering humanitarian supplies, it's about breaking Israel's siege on 1.5 million Palestinians," she said.

            Irishman Fintan Lane echoed the sentiments.

            "We are determined to break Israel's blockade and will not be intimidated," said Lane, one of 750 activists from around the world, including dozens of public officials from European and Arab countries, who organisers say are heading towards Gaza.

            Never mind.

            Anyway, the boarding party should have been prepared for armed resistance. Botched operation cost lives.

          • Does Israel allow prefab homes, water filtration units and crayons as aid into Gaza? I would have guessed not according to earlier reports of what is not allowed because it is not considered essential to survival.

          • I think you're right, and the information in the article supports that reading.

          • Attacking unarmed vessels in international waters, and killing people is a step waaaay too far.

          • You can't call them activists. If they intended to break the Gaza blockade, then they are combatants, not activists. By ignoring the Israeli warnings and then attacking the Israelis with metal poles and chairs, they are combatants. Secondly, they were not defending themselves, since the Israelis had no intention of attacking, their intention was to seize control of the vessel.

          • "When you're running a naval blockade, have told the blockading forces that you're pushing ahead in spite of their requests that you divert your course, are boarded, and then swarm the boarding party and beat it up — it's not very surprising that, after a certain amount of time, said boarding party will open fire."

            Sorry Ben. Opening fire on the occupants of a vessel that you illegally boarded in international waters is an act of piracy. Had the IDF waited until their waters had been breached, the case for self-defence could have been made. By boarding the ship in international waters, it is the occupants of the vessels that get to claim self-defence.

            Furthermore, if they were intent on killing Israeli soldiers, don't you think that they would have shown up with something more efficient than sticks and knifes?

          • When you're running a blockade, you're subject to interception/interdiction in international waters, too — it's when you're in _neutral_ waters that you're safe. So they were safe in Turkish, Cypriot, Syrian, or Egyptian waters, say. (Or Egypt could be a co-belligerent here, as they're blockading Gaza too.)

            And we know they were running the blockade because, well, they announced it. Quite loudly, and also in writing.

            Wasn't piracy — not unless the whole blockade is illegal. If you hold to the position that the blockade _itself_ is illegal, _then_ Israel is in the wrong here.

          • Define interception/interdiction, Ben. Are you suggesting that the IDF was within its rights to board another vessel in international waters?

          • Yes, the blockade is illegal.

          • If the blockade is legal, then yes, the IDF was absolutely within its rights to board, search, and, if contraband was found (and the prefab house, etc., was contraband), to take the ships as prizes. And if the ships resisted said process, the IDF was within its rights to use force.

            More here: http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/385ec082b509e76c41256

            If the blockade is illegal, then it's a trivial question — of course all of it was illegal.

          • Ben, I think that you are wrong about that. The blockade had not been breached.

          • I guess that point is where our disagreement is — the people sending the flotilla had announced they were carrying goods listed as contraband (the prefab housing stuff), and also that they were intent on running the blockade and delivering it straight to Gaza.

            My interpretation of the relevant international law (summarized in the link above) is that they were open for interdiction as soon as they left Turkish waters and it was reasonably clear that they intended to try to run the blockade.

            Remember: it's "neutral" waters, not "international" waters, where they're safe. Think back to the Battle of the River Plate — the German battleship was safe from the British only while it remained in Brazilian waters. (Reason for that is so that there isn't a firefight in a neutral country's harbour.)

            ***

            As for the actual force used — the IDF should've been prepared for resistance. Had they been ready, no-one would have died.

          • Gideon Levy in Haaretz on May 30, about the lies Israel tells itself:

            "…They want to maintain the ineffective, illegal and unethical siege on Gaza and not let the "peace flotilla" dock off the Gaza coast?…"
            http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/gaza

          • So Levy thinks the blockade is illegal.

            Again, that's the sticking point. If the blockade is illegal, yes, all of this was illegal. If the blockade is legal, then the IDF's actions against those trying to run the blockade were perfectly legal. (If dumb from a PR pov.)

            ***

            Question to self: who's Gideon Levy? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_Levy

            Ah, that's who he is. Interesting figure. Sort of an Israeli Katrina vanden Huevel.

            ***

            Other point to consider — if the Turkish government really views the ships taken as prizes as having been taken illegally (viz., by Israeli ships conducting an illegal blockade), it may decide to send its own warships to break the blockade. (They were Turkish ships, no?)

            Which would put NATO into one heck of an interesting position.

          • If the Turkish government really views the ships taken as prizes as having been taken illegally (viz., by Israeli ships conducting an illegal blockade), it may decide to send its own warships to break the blockade. (They were Turkish ships, no?)

            Which would put NATO into one heck of an interesting position.

            Wow. If it weren't for the whole "this could end in the destruction of the entire world" angle, I'd actually love to see that just because of how fascinating it would be.

          • That's just not true.

            The Turkish ships were neutral merchant ships trying to run a naval blockade already in place. If it is an illegal blockade, then it was an act of piracy. If it is a legal blockade, then it was a legal stop which became a tragic incident that should have been avoided (but wasn't).

            Don't know about the reports of the Turks sending warships to escort future aid ships — AP says they ruled it out.
            http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM

            [PM Arinc] ruled out deploying Turkish warships in the Mediterranean.

            If the Turks did send their navy to protect future convoys, presumably that would lift the blockade — it's hard to imagine Israel openly attacking NATO warships. (It's been a long time since the USS Liberty.)

          • Just to be clear, I'm not actually cheering for doomsday or anything myself.

            I just thought that ACADEMICALLY it would be fascinating to see how the world would respond to the warships of a NATO member attempting to run an Israeli blockade of questionable legitimacy.

          • Come now, not the _entire_ world — it'd probably be like 1967 or 1973. With the small additional possibility of a couple of Israeli, Iranian (you know they'd come in), or Turkish cities becoming smoking craters.

            But yes, tens or hundreds of thousands of lives possibly lost — not good.

            "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"

          • Yes, well, the hyperbole was mostly meant to indicate that while I'd find such a scenario fascinating in a purely academic sense, I have no interest in actually seeing it happen!

            Also, great use of that awesome quote! In my mind, I even read it in that weird computer voice, and saw the collected staff of NORAD cheering at the end.

  7. I could have sworn that the White House press secretary used the exact same response…

  8. How dare the Israeli's try to control arms coming into their borders. Sheesh, I mean there's nothing but benevolent groups all around them, who want nothing but living side by side in peace and tranquility.

    Iran and their proxies Hezbollah, Hamas et al infiltrating the area….all just misunderstood peace loving peoples.

    Israel should just let whomever, whenever, go in, unchecked.

    Time for another Isreali "human rights abuse" charge by the UN, perhaps sponsored by Sudan this time.

    • What arms? They are keeping out things that people of Gaza need to live decently.

      • There's a food blockade for Gaza? Funny, you'd never know it by the luxury gourmet restaurants there…oh maybe they scrape up the stuff from dumptsers:
        http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2010/05/25/di

        Isreal is rightfully trying to stop arms and terrorists from entering. Remarkable how many are actively trying to believe the spin from those who are fine with hiding missle launchers in hospitals.

        • "We in the West"????? What a load of racist crap.

          • Edited out the racist bits, did you?

        • chet believes whatever he reads that conforms to his pre-existing ideas.

  9. As for those wondering what happened?

    Here's the short and sweet answer: precisely what the "activists" wanted to happen.

    Not unlike putting missle launchers in mosques, and arms caches in hospitals and schools…in active areas of engagement.

    The leftist media will be happy to go along with focusing on the Israeli response, without looking at the tactics of the provocateurs for a moment.

    Like the other conflicts, if Israel had any intention to "attack" as bloodthristy monsters, there'd be several ships at the bottom of the sea right now.

    Instead brave IDF soldiers trying to use paintball disbursments, without shedding blood, were swarmed, beaten, the ropes to the choppers were tied to the ship to bring the choppers down, their sidearems were removed, then used against them (along with other arms already on the ship and were fired upon)…all before the "bloodthirsty" IDF forces opened fire.

    Now for the round the clock "Isreali Attack" stories, by the media leftists.

    • I doubt that any of the activists actually wanted to be murdered by the IDF.

      • Actually, life (the lives of fellow citizens) is a pretty easy commodity to dispose of by the "activists" over there. We in the West would never consider hiding missel launchers in schools, arms caches in hospitals, because that would invite attack on innocent civilians (that's why it's a war crime…one that gets nary a mention), but there, its a bonus, because then the IDF gets trounced for killing civilians.

        As for wanting part, check out the video below I posted of the "peace activists" savagely beating the IDF guys. I think the notion of natural consequences following brutal attacks on armed soldiers rightfully excercising their duty, that may be escaping you.

        • Brutal attacks on armed soldiers. That's right up there with our 'glorious retreat' and the enemy's 'cowardly advance under heavy fire'.

          • True, the "brutal attacks on armed soldiers" bit doesn't make much sense, but in this context there is a point to be made I think.

            If armed commandos board your vessel from helicopters (after repeated warnings that you risked such a thing by not turning your vessel around), and they try to control the crowd on deck using paintball guns and non lethal tactics, then you have two choices at that point. Surrender, or fight back. If you fight back though, I don't think it's unreasonable to presume that if you manage to do enough damage (and PARTICULARLY if you manage to disarm a couple of the commandos, throw one of them off the boat, and start firing at them with their own sidearms), then, eventually, those commandos are going to switch to live rounds. Those commandos may have been willing to take beatings and stabbings from the passengers, but once the passengers started firing bullets at them from their own sidearms, enough was no doubt enough.

            I'd say there's plenty of blame to go around, but from my viewpoint, if the Israelis hadn't opened fire, there'd likely be just as many dead today, they'd just be of a different nationality.

          • So, basically, anytime armed men from a foreign state confront you, you have two options:

            1) Surrender,

            2) Get killed.

            Even if those armed men are the agents of a democratic state which respects the rule of law.

            The point of running the blockade was obviously to put the Israelis in a bad light. Unfortunately for Israel, they seem to have succeeded. This thing just gets worse and worse.

          • Well, that's putting it quite starkly, but if armed men from a foreign state confront you, and you choose to respond by attacking them with sticks, stabbing them with knives, and wrestling their sidearms away from them so you can shoot at them, then yes; mostly likely, either they're going to die or you are. None of which really goes to the ethics or morality of the situation, simply the logic thereof. It may not seem fair, but when confronted with armed men from a foreign state you should surrender, and if you choose to fight instead, you need to be aware that the armed men might use the guns they brought to stop your attack.

            If you respond to armed commandos dropping out of helicopters by attacking them with iron bars and knives, and trying to disarm them, then there are likely only two options at that point: 1) you're going to manage to disarm all of the commandos, or, 2) eventually, the commandos are going to start shooting at you (I suppose there could be 3 – the commandos retreat and their navy simply torpedos your ship from a safe distance, but lets assume that was a non-starter here).

            Also, I don't know who gave the order ultimately, but yes, faced with their buddies being beaten with pipes, stabbed, THROWN OFF THE SIDE OF THE BOAT, and shot at with their own confiscated sidearms, eventually, even agents of a "democratic state which respects the rule of law" are going to return fire. Now one can EASILY make the argument that they never should have been their in the first place, but once they were on that boat, I'm not sure the commandos can (nor should) be criticized NEARLY to the extent that those who sent them there should, if at all.

          • So, let me get this straight. You try and board somebody's boat. They prevent you. You are then allowed to kill them?

            What if they hadn't thrown the commando off? What if they had put them in a dingy and then set them out to sea. Are you still allowed to kill them? They did make those commandos look bad. They needed to die.

            I've been invited up to a friends' cottage in Muskoka next weekend and I need to know under what circumstances I'm allowed to kill someone. Obviously you can kill jet skiers. What about people who belong to unpopular political parties? Can I kill them? Like, say, anti-capital gains tax activists who are also against open-pit mineral extraction. And who are third generation Christian Arabs, from the Levant. Can I kill them? What justification do I need?

          • If you're conducting a legal blockade, yep. (If you're conducting an illegal blockade, nope, but, as the saying goes, better to face the judgment of seven men than be carried out by six.)

            Re cottage country — it's open season up there. Especially if it's hunting season.

            That jet skier? Obviously a sea monster that was threatening your boat. Anti cap gains tax people who are against open-pit mineral extraction from the Levant? Probably hairy — looked like a bear. It was him or you, and you had to think quick. Depending on what juries are like up there, you can probably skate on door-to-door salesmen and political canvassers, too — argue necessity.

          • If you're a member of your country's armed forces, and you're given what you presume to be a lawful order to enforce a naval blockade by boarding a ship that's been repeatedly warned to turn back or be boarded, and then while on that ship you see your buddy being stabbed repeatedly, and you begin to take fire from the passengers who now have your buddy's side arm, then I don't have a problem with you shooting back at that point. Perhaps, when it all comes out, the people who ordered you to go there will face some sort of charges, because they shouldn't have sent you on to that boat in the first place. Perhaps it will come out that the "peace activists" aboard the boat had declared before they left that they were headed for "Gaza or martyrdom" and that they were not only ready for the attack, but wanted it to happen all along. Either way, I'm not sure I have a huge problem with the guys who actually repelled on to the boat EVENTUALLY shooting back, once they were actually being shot at.

            In sum, if you walk in to your friend's cottage with your hunting rifle, and he immediately smashes you in the face with a lead pipe, takes your gun, and then starts shooting at you, you have my permission to return fire if you're able. At that point, it's kill or be killed. Of course, why your peaceful friend would attack you with a pipe, let alone take your gun and start shooting at you is another question all together, but don't pause to consider it. Take cover, and return fire if possible.

          • and when all the smoke drifts away, maybe also consider that maybe it isn't the best idea to just walk into your friends point with your hunting rifle in the first place?

            it is interesting to contrast 'defensible' reactions. if one heard that in texas someone had disarmed an intruder and used said arms to shoot at the invader, one would, i suspect, barely raise an eyebrow. but in this case, disarming the intruder and and using the arms to shoot at the invader gets you 'understandably' killed. to be clear, i ain't a big gun fan so would prefer everyone just didn't crack them out in the first place. but i am also not a huge fan with armies illegally storming places that seemingly require it so little. it tends to gets things elevated to levels no one needs things to be elevated too. and here we are. why in gawd's name was it necessary to invade this boat at 430 in the morning?

          • Like when, say, the RCMP are confronting Mic'mac fishermen illegally harvesting lobster in New Bruinsick, they can kill them?

            Because they didn't. And they had there would be a massive outcry.

            Why do we tolerate Isreali actions which we wouldn't tolerate from our own government?

          • Your analogy is absurd. The Israeli blockade is to prevent weapons and materials used to build weapons from entering Gaza. The people they are intending to deter are terrorists. Micmac lobster fisherman aren't terrorists. There are no Micmac suicide bombers or missile launchers. Hamas kills Israelis. Micmac kill lobsters.

            If you equate lobsters with Israelis, then you might as well be a member of Hamas or Hezbollah yourself.

          • I thought the IDF were professionals at this and would not lower one or two armed soldiers on board without some plan. You know, like first using smoke bombs or something to confuse those on board and then lowering enough soldiers so one doesn't have to worry about them losing their guns or being thrown overboard because they are so outnumbered by non-confused, non-stunned people.

            Or perhaps the IDF did have a plan and implemented it.

          • That's an excellent point. It does seem a poorly planned raid. They seem to have completely misread the level of resistance they'd face.

            Now, in their defence, they could have decided that lobbing tear gas on to the deck prior to boarding was overkill. I don't suppose it's COMPLETELY naive that they presumed that the "peace activists" on board would be pretty stunned by the sight of armed commandos repelling on to their ship from helicopters, and that they viewed the likelihood of their armed commandos being immediately set upon by pipe, chair and knife wielding "peace activists" intent on stabbing, beating and disarming them, to be remote. There's also the possibility that they considered the possibility of the soldiers being attacked, but felt that the soldiers would be able to subdue any such attack using non-lethal force, and that it was better to risk the soldiers facing some sort of attack, than it was to lob tear gas on to the deck of a ship of people who hadn't attacked them (yet). It wouldn't be the first time the IDF has put Israeli soldiers into a more dangerous position than they needed to be, in order to avoid doing something that could look bad internationally (like preceding the boarding with tear gas and flashbangs), and it wouldn't be the first time that such a strategy went horribly wrong (those usually when that's the case it's a lot of dead IDF personnel that's the result).

          • Last time, the protesters (who were also trying to deliver building supplies and crayons) said the IDF rammed the ship and fired near it, while the IDF said they accidentally collided with the ship. In any case, the ship was taking on water and had to divert to the nearest shore. If they really did ram the ship, they could not repeat that same approach and claim a second accident (which, after all, did not even deter another attempt). If it was an accident, then the IDF does seem fairly incompetent and trying to make sense of their actions may be futile.

            Maybe the deaths happened by accident due to poor planning on one or both sides, maybe the IDF planned it, maybe some protesters planned it — in which case, some protesters must have been misled, as this protest, like the earlier one, included well-educated people with a lot to lose and a record of peaceful activism.

            As always, once some people are released, or whenever they can communicate again, we will get the two conflicting first-hand accounts, neither of which will ever be proven.

      • They are suicide activists. It's the newest thing in activist chic. It's right up there with Che Guevera T-shirts.

        Weren't some of the murdered in the IDF. Not to muddy the waters. But muddy the waters are.

        • There are claims that two members of the IDF were seriously injured but no details. On the other hand Israel is holding the flotilla people captive and it is not clear how many deaths there were, so Israel could kill some inconvenient witnesses.

          • I've got to imagine at the very least that that guy they tossed over the side was pretty seriously hurt. There's also a pretty close up video that purports to be one of the activists repeatedly stabbing one of the soldiers (though presumably they were wearing some type of protective gear). I had heard that nine of the IDF members had been injured, but presumably some of those were minor injuries. In that one video, it sure looks like a couple of them are taking pretty vicious beatings though.

        • I haven't seen any reports of any of the IDF being killed. Beaten, stabbed and shot, yes, but not killed (of course, I have to wonder about that one who was thrown right off the side of the boat).

          • On the tape I saw, it looked like he was dropped into the lifeboat which was not very far below deck. What did you see?

          • It could have been that. I took the lifeboat to be a bit further out, i.e. that he dropped between the ship and the lifeboat, but you're right, he could have landed in the lifeboat.

            I do think that it shows that the commandos were trying to use non lethal force though. Israeli commandos who are cleared to fire just don't get taken down by civilians imho, even civilians yielding pipes, axes and knives. From what I've seen so far, I find it plausible that the commandos were trying pretty hard to use non-lethal force pretty much right up to the point that a couple of them had been wrestled to the ground, stabbed, and disarmed, at which point the others started taking fire from their comrades own side arms. My larger point being that to the extent there's blame to be apportioned to the Israelis, I'd put it on the brass, and not the guys who actually boarded the boat (not that they shouldn't be looked at too, but it's possible in my mind that they acted appropriately, though with tragic results, given the situation they were put in).

          • If the identification of protestors and IDF is as claimed by the IDF commentary on the tape, then your analysis is plausible. However, everything in the Mideast conflict involves a propaganda war and so one can't simply assume the IDF commentary is correct. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. The film doesn't show anyone hitting the water or being the recipient of the intense bar swinging.

          • The film doesn't show anyone hitting the water or being the recipient of the intense bar swinging.

            Well, on the water thing I totally concede. He could have landed in the lifeboat, or a deck below, or something else. I certainly can't say for certain that he was thrown over the side and INTO THE OCEAN, just that he was thrown over the side (though he could have ended up in the ocean too, it's not like there weren't plenty of Israeli naval vessels around that could have plucked him out of the water).

            No one being the recipient of the intense bar swinging though really stretches credulity a bit, I think. Can you actually SEE the blows hitting the marines? No, the marines are on the ground at that point, and you can't see the ground because of the side of the ship (apologies to mariners for just calling the deck "the ground"). But what are you suggesting? That the passengers were wildly swinging pipes and sticks and axes at the marines and that every blow they attempted was MISSING? Or, that they were wildly beating SOMETHING ELSE on the deck of the ship completely coincidental to the Israeli raid? Sorry, but I saw people swinging bats and pipes vigorously, followed by commandos falling down, followed by more vigorous swinging directed towards the ground. I'm COMPLETELY convinced that the additional swings (after I couldn't see the marines anymore) were also aimed at the marines, and I don't need to see any more evidence for me to presume that some of those blows were hitting their targets.

          • Well, you are probably right if you could identify the IDF. Israel says 2 soldiers were seriously injured, and one of them could be the recipient of those blows. I saw the IDF coming down the rope, but among the crowd, I often couldn't distinguish the IDF and protestors. It wasn't clear to me who was swinging what and I'm not too interested in watching it again.

            It is clearly of key importance exactly what happened in the first 20 seconds or so and when the first shot was fired and the first person was injured or killed. A film would have to start with an unsuspecting deck of protestors to answer those questions.

          • Not to get all conspiracy-theoryish on you, but how do we even know whether the film is genuine footage of the event? Something seems really wrong about it . . . who would rappel into an angry crowd of people wanting to beat the bejeezus out of you? And doing so armed only with paintball guns?? If so then the IDF went at it with their B-team.

          • The most seriously injured soldier spoke out, saying he is the one pictured being thrown overboard in the IDF film and that he also suffered a knife wound to his stomach. He said he fired his gun before being thrown overboard, because he was being attacked with knives.

            He also said boarding the ship was "a successful operation", but maybe all soldiers are required to say that.

  10. Israel has no business being in Gaza waters much less international waters….it's an illegal blockade.

    • Israel has no business being in Gaza waters much less international waters….it's an illegal blockade.

      And now we see the position underlying all this.

      I rest my case.

      • Yes, you've made a case for Israel to commit an act of war by attacking unarmed aid ships in international waters and murdering people.

        • Rhetorical question:

          Why is Egypt maintaining the blockade, too? Surely the goods could have been unloaded in an Egyptian port and transported overland into Gaza?

          • As you well know, Egypt and Israel have a long-standing treaty….and Mubarak, the dictator of Egypt is gravely ill.

            Goods transported any other way never reach Gaza…hence the flotilla.

      • It shouldn't have to be said that Israel is allowed to defend itself against Hamas. The problem is how it goes about it. (There is no magic solution which allows you to control a hostile population and which enables both sides to maintain their dignity).

        International law and precedent is clear: if you occupy or control a given territory you have a responsibility to adequately care for the people living in that territory. As the controlling power the people there are your responsibility. You are not allowed to starve the population, or colonize that territory.

        That is why there is such a rancorous argument over the siege of Gaza. Most experts claim Gazans are being denied adequate food and medicine. Israel claims they are. That conditions in Gaza appear horrific provides an opening for those who oppose the Israeli blockade. Conditions in Gaza give them leverage to challenge the blockade.

        In the Left Bank Israel is within its rights to build a defensive fence, what they are not allowed to do is colonize the land they occupy and control.

        • Agreed on all the legal points. (Including the West Bank stuff.)

          Re the extra point on Gaza, Israel's restrictions seem legit on paper — the question is then whether in practice the food and medicine are making it through.

          If yes, then they're fine, if not, the blockade is illegal.

          • Israel claims the blockade is necessary for its security. Fair enough. Hamas is actively hostile and has foreign sponsors capable of supplying it with powerful weaponry, or so Israel claims (most likely correctly). Unfortunately, Hamas is also the democratically elected government. From a purely Israeli perspective, the situation is intolerable. But there are no real options.

            The groups involved in the Freedom Flotilla are exploiting the perception (also probably correct) that Israel is not living up to its responsibilities as a controlling power. The assumption being: if Israel is not supplying the people of Gaza enough food and medicine to live, then outside groups and states have the right, or even the responsibility, to help.

          • Agreed — mostly. I suspect that Israel is supplying the people of Gaza with the minimum necessary to live. So people aren't quite dying of starvation, but their lives are pretty bad nevertheless. (If people were actually starving, we'd be seeing concentration camp-type photos in the mainstream press.)

          • I'm not sure I understand what you are saying, Ben. You think that rationning the people of Gaza is acceptable so long as no one dies of starvation?

          • I know a blockade is clearly and absolutely illegal if it starves the population, that's all. My understanding is that this one doesn't.

            On the merits of the blockade policy itself — I don't know. I'd probably lift it if I were making foreign policy decisions in Jerusalem — but then, I didn't have rockets fired at my civilians for years from Gaza.

            ***

            In this particular case, it's not like the Israeli government didn't offer to transport the food and medical materials over land, supervised by the people in the flotilla.

          • "In this particular case, it's not like the Israeli government didn't offer to transport the food and medical materials over land, supervised by the people in the flotilla."

            I'm sure you are well aware of Israel's reputation when it comes to that very point. There is a reason why aid is being shipped by sea to Gaza and not by land. This blockade has reduced the flow of goods to Gaza down to a quarter of what it used to be. For all intents and purposes, the people of Gaza are living in an outdoor jail.

            These are the kinds of conditions that make people desperate. Desperate people will do desperate things.

          • Collective punishment is in all cases illegal. Israel maintains the blockade is for security purposes, to halt the flow of weapons to Hamas. Clearly, however, this isn't the case. The blockade is punishing the people of Gaza for voting for Hamas. Israel is punishing them.

            The embargo is also corrupt. As you cannot import items into Gaza which Israelis produce. For example, empty cans, which Gazans could use to can the tomatoes they grow as tomato paste, are illegal because Israeli farmers already sell tomato paste into Gaza.

            Isreal has also offered to transport food aid before. This aid never seems to reach Gaza. Why should anyone trust Isreal since Isreal hasn't exactly been acting in good faith.

          • No it's not. We all wish it were but it is far from over.

          • Well, the blockade is. Can't keep sand in a sieve. (Unless Egypt closes its border crossing again.)

            The other stuff — the inquiry, the Security Council resolutions, whether Turkey invokes Article V — that's all yet to play out, and we may yet end up with a nasty regional war over this.

  11. You can construct a storyline that Netanyahu's far right coalition partners are actively undermining him, forcing him to adopt policies that are more extreme than even he would normally promote. They are making his life impossible.

    Biden comes to visit they announce more settlements In East Jerusalem. Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Obama, a meeting both sides are desperate to go well and, while he is in Canada shoring up support among Israel's supporters here, they green light an assault on the so called Freedom Flotilla. I have no idea if this makes sense in terms how the Israeli bureaucracy and security services works, but the narrative is there.

    Not that I'm normally inclined to give Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt. But this hardly helps him or Israel…

  12. Video of the peacibly peaceful "peace activitsts"…

    beating the he** out of the IDF guys with metal pipes (and throwing them overboard) as they board the ship to inspect.

    Watch it here, because there's a snowballs chance in he** of this making the mainstream footage:
    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YTQ1NTY0

    • Keep in mind that Israeli military released the video.

      Is this true?

      "A reporter with the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, who was sailing on the Turkish ship leading the flotilla, said the Israelis fired at the vessel before boarding it, wounding the captain."
      -link

      • Beleive your eyes BC, arabs are taught at a young age that Jews are swine. It sickens me to the stomach. That it leaves you cold tells me all I need to know about your worldview. Frankly, I expected more civility from you.

    • Armed boarding of a ship in international waters is an act of piracy.

      The flotilla acted in self-defence.

      Your video btw is already on mainstream footage, although nobody believes IDF clips anyway.

      In any case, it's no excuse to open fire.

    • National Review?
      Pajamas Media?

      Your references aren't helping your argument, my friend.

      • Your base refusal to consider what is before your lying eyes because its not through a trusted left wing filter, is not helping yours.

      • Odious that you don't find this video revolting Richard. But I guess they're Jews so who cares, right?

        • Even for your standards, this is vile jarrid.

          • Easy on Jarrid,

            he just doesn't understand your "nuance" whereby, the savage beating is to be accepted, because a dastardly conservative source dared show it.

            Though the fact that the leftists would never show leaves us with the intractble position that it is to be accepted.

            Interesting. Jarrid doesn't seem that far off after all.

          • Nope, not buying it chet. He claimed I hated Jews, the only proof he needed was my left-leaning political sensibilities. And that's ridiculous – just ask my Jewish girlfriend.

            And I stand by my criticism of your references – if you want to be taken seriously, don't reference far-right blogs, choose a BBC or even a CNN.

          • You see footage of a crowd beating the pulp out of Jewish soldiers. Your reaction is to fall into ideology, instead of looking at gruesome facts staring you in the face. It's the cold inhumaneness of your reaction that I see Richard. And it's not very attractive – at all. Ideology breeds hatred. The last century, an ideological century if there ever was one, was soaked in blood because of it.

          • oh please do shut up. I realize you guys like to repeat ad nauseum that everyone on the left are frothing anti-semites, but that doesn't make it true.

            Spare us your histrionics…they're as tiresome as they are transparent.

    • The Reuters photo of that bikini-clad woman who is sunbathing shows the counter-protestors didn't have much to fear from the Gaza side.

      • She looks like she has a great personality.

  13. I haven' seen any video that presents a picture of what really happened or how it started. Most seem to selections of one side hitting another, which tells us only about the middle of the fight.

    • Most people aren't filming at 4am when an attack starts. Takes awhile to wake up and find a camera.

      • I don't know, I don't think you're giving the passengers enough credit.

        Those passengers with iron bars and chairs beating the soldiers as they repel down from the helicopters seem pretty awake to me. I know I would certainly be too groggy at 4 o'clock in the morning to disarm an Israeli commando, or to throw one over the side of my boat, but those guys on the deck seem pretty lively.

        • Where did you grow up?

          Where I grew up we disarmed Israeli commandos for breakfast. Literally. My favourite move was to distract them with whatever toy I managed to dig out of the cereal box and hit them with a flurry of punches to the solar plexus. My parents thought this was hilarious and would leave the door unlocked so the commandos wouldn't break down the door. They also stuck silhouetted Israeli commando stickers onto our kitchen windows so the commandos wouldn't shatter them as they dive rolled through, similarly to how you paste stickers of hawks to your windows to prevent birds from colliding into them.

          The only problem was when my brother beat me to the cereal box. In this case I would pretend to be drunk. Maybe tell a few jokes. Get them relaxed. Then I'd swear at them in schoolboy Ontario French. That would usually be enough. Israelis cannot stand listening to French verbs being mangled. They adore eloquent conjugation

          I feel sorry for you for having missed such a formative experience.

  14. Actually, mine is as they were boarding, ie the beginning.

  15. So I just saw the video of the soldiers boarding the boat. Not that one can justify killing 10+ people, these soldiers were getting beat up pretty severely from what I could see.

    • To me, that video (if one doesn't just dismiss it entirely) also lends credence to the argument that the commandos were attempting to us non-lethal force to subdue the crowd on deck. I can't for the life of me imagine that Israeli commandos repelled on to that ship from helicopters with live rounds at the ready and STILL took a beating like that, with one of them thrown right over the side of the boat. To me, the only possible explanation is that they weren't firing bullets initially, and switched to bullets once they felt the situation was totally out of control (i.e. once one of them had been thrown overboard, and they were taking fire from their own sidearms which had been wrestled away from some of them).

      This will all need to be very carefully investigated, but if you're referring to the same video that I've seen, it did appear that the commandos were taking a pretty severe beating without firing back (though you can clearly see one of them firing a paint gun at the passengers on deck at one point later in the video, and pretty clearly see a traditional sidearm (i.e. "real gun") being pointed by one of them (can't tell if he's firing) as the crowd finally starts to back off.

      • You are right. IDF soldiers started firing just After the Muslims opened with fire with 2 stolen pistols.
        Israel had the all right to stop the ship and to check her luggage according to international marine law.

  16. Canada should blockade Sable Island. Those damn horses are an existential threat. What if they learned to fly? Or play hockey? And they hate us because Diefenbaker tried to kill them. Too bad the boo-hoo, bleeding hearts brigade stopped him. Because now we have to deal with a deadly herd of flying horses, each one possessed of a devastating wrist shot.

    Canada pioneered peacekeeping. We should get into this whole blockading business. Canada needs to awake from her slumber and blockade someone!! Now!!!!

    • To me, the real question is whether the flying horses can defeat Israeli commandos.

      If they can, then blockade their a**es until we can get them enlisted in the Canadian military.

      (Sorry, this discussion has gotten me a little punchy.)

    • Don't force yourself to mock yourself. Hamas fired on Israel villages 10'000 rockets for the last 9 years and still launching Kassam almost on daily basus. Don't put it as your personal greedy joke. Israelis has the right to live at least as you have.

  17. Check these out:

    Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon's press conference on the flotilla incident: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/
    Israel Goes on High Alert in the Wake of Flotilla Incident: http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?…
    IDF Met with Pre-Planned Violence When Boarding Ship: http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/News/today/10/05/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bU12KW-XyZE&pl
    Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's Statement: Activists Had Weapons: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3896588
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement about the humanitarian situation in Gaza: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wlWcNXzstI
    MFA legal expert Sarah Weiss Maudi explains why the flotilla was not allowed to dock at Gaza: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2W457Ot6qw&fe
    Legal Backgrounder on maritime law and other related issues, from MFA: http://www.jewishfederations.org/page.aspx?id=221

  18. Any attack on Turkey can be considered an attack on Canada (and the rest of NATO allies).

    Turkey has called an emergency session of NATO, and one will convene tomorrow. Let's see if Turkey claims whether or not the Israeli attack (which killed Turkish citizens) was an attack on Turkey itself.

    • Has Turkey ever commented publicly on their view of the legality of Israel's naval blockade? 'Cause what you're suggesting here is crazy, (and never going to happen) but I'm willing to run with the premise for the sake of argument long enough to get to the point that if Turkey is going to claim this merchant ship as a "Turkish ship" in the sense that you imply, then Israel's bound to ask why Turkey attempted to run their naval blockade.

      The problem for Israel won't come from NATO, I don't think, but from Turkey. What if Turkey decided to send Turkish naval vessels to escort another convoy's attempt to run the blockade? 'Cause when an actual MILITARY vessel tries to run a blockade the more frequent course of action if you can't get them to turn around is to SINK them, not board them. As I don't think the Israelis would actually fire on a warship of a NATO member to enforce their blockade, that might effectively be the end of the blockade. Of course, the Turkish navy might be more reticent about presuming the Israelis unwillingness to fire than I am.

      • I don't think you understand what is really going on.

        In Turkey this is about internal politics as Israeli actions in Gaza. Israel is very unpopular in Turkey, because of how it is perceived to be treating its Palestinian minority. Turkey's military leadership and secular elite are more inclined toward Israel. Israel's actions against the Freedom Flotilla put Turkey's secular and military elite on the wrong side of Turkish popular opinion.

        The fact is Israel attacked a ship sailing under a Turkish flag. Turkey is within its rights to call for a Nato meeting. And at that meeting Turkey's military elite are going to be forced to bow to Turkish public opinion. For the rest of Nato: the meeting's object will be to avoid having to choose between important Nato ally Turkey and Israel. That would not be a fun choice to make.

  19. Commandos boarding civilian boats in international waters…there is no way to credibly spin anything that comes after that action as "self defense." And, there is no way to credibly spin the situation in Gaza — obnoxious references to beef strogonoff and cream of spinach soup notwithstanding — as other than a humanitarian crisis. It is time for Israel to stop with the giant PR offensive and start acknowledging and addressing its wrongdoings.

  20. The larger question is whether Israel's claims of self-defence in recent years have been used to justify disproportionate military actions. With this latest incident, the self-defence narrative has been stretched to the breaking point. The Israelis may have gone to the well one too many times.

    I don't know whether Netanyahu was set up by his right-wing coalition partners or not, but it was unfortunate that his weak and implausible initial statements to the media were broadcast to the world from the inner sanctum of Harper's Parliament Hill office.

    • I agree. It makes Canada look bad.

  21. LKO, we agree on more than we disagree i reckon, and your point that there are different points with which to consider culpability. I def, agree those who ordered the fiasco, and those who advised them, ought to be the focus of a discussion of culpability. and i can't blame soldiers for defending themselves (although i think we are getting such fragmented pieces of information that I am not sure i have any base upon which to judge the degree the soldiers's response were professional/measured/extra provocative/etc).

    as fer the Texas thing, it wasn't meant to be perfectly analogous, but it is was meant to highlight how different cultural contexts shape the rest of the convo, including which practical realities even are worth discussing.

  22. •As for those wondering what happened?

    Here's the short and sweet answer: precisely what the "activists" wanted to happen.

    Not unlike putting missile launchers in mosques, and arms caches in hospitals and schools…in active areas of engagement.

    The leftist media will be happy to go along with focusing on the Israeli response, without looking at the tactics of the provocateurs for a moment.

    Like the other conflicts, if Israel had any intention to "attack" as bloodthirsty monsters, there'd be several ships at the bottom of the sea right now.

    Instead brave IDF soldiers trying to use paintball disbursements, without shedding blood, were swarmed, beaten, the ropes to the choppers were tied to the ship to bring the choppers down, their sidearm's were removed, then used against them (along with other arms already on the ship and were fired upon)…all before the "bloodthirsty" IDF forces opened fire.

    Now for the round the clock "Israeli Attack" stories, by the media leftists.

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