Much regret is being expressed about the deaths of the “activists” who were among those attacking Israeli naval commandos with knives, clubs, iron bars, chairs, and snatched handguns on the Mavi Marmara early Monday morning. The ship was one in a six-ship flotilla of Muslim and radical-Leftist anti-Israeli activists that was approaching Gaza with the expressed aim of breaking Israel’s naval blockade of the Strip and bringing purportedly badly needed humanitarian supplies. The Mavi Marmara was also known by the Israeli authorities to be the largest and most hostile ship in the flotilla.
Yet, either out of poor intelligence or naiveté on the part of their superiors, the commandos descended onto the ship unprepared, bearing only paintball rifles. It was only after several of them had already been severely injured and at least one of them thrown off the boat (see some of the brutality here) that the commandos finally got permission to open fire with their handguns and saved their comrades and themselves.
One of the soldiers said the scene on the deck “looked like the Ramallah lynch” of 2000, in which two off-duty Israeli soldiers strayed into the West Bank town of Ramallah and were horrifically lynched by an Arab mob. In that case there were only two soldiers and they were unable to defend themselves; but it would hardly have been regrettable if more soldiers had been able to come to their aid in time and killed as many of their attackers as was necessary to save their lives.
That is not to say the rioters aboard the Mavi Marmara—although their snatching and use of the handguns was a clear attempt to kill some of the soldiers—had any hope of prevailing over the commando force. What, then, in relentlessly attacking an elite military force mostly with knives, clubs, and the like, did the devout, “Allah Akbar”-chanting “activists” hope to accomplish? Clearly, that some of them would be “martyred” and thereby create yet another anti-Israeli international incident—at which, of course, they succeeded.
They succeeded even though the flotilla their ship was part of was organized by the IHH—a Turkish radical-Islamist organization that, as documented by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, closely cooperates with the Hamas rulers of Gaza and with global jihad networks in Chechnya, Bosnia, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan while having ties with Al-Qaeda.
They succeeded even though, four days ago on May 28, members of the flotilla were filmed chanting “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return” (a reference to a seventh-century massacre of Jews by Muslims) along with songs of the mass-murderous “Palestinian intifada,” and saying “We are now waiting for one of two good things—to reach Gaza or to achieve martyrdom”; and even though, three days ago on May 29, organizers of the flotilla explicitly told Al Jazeera TV that they were aiming for a confrontation with Israel that would have maximal media coverage.
They succeeded even though it is incontrovertibly evident that the Mavi Marmara was warned by Israel—before the commando boarding—that it was “approaching an area of hostility which is under a naval blockade,” and was invited instead to peacefully dock at Israel’s Ashdod port, have the supplies it was carrying peacefully transferred to Gaza after security checks, and then have its passengers peacefully sail back to their home ports—to which the “martyrdom”-seeking, weapons-hoarding Mavi Marmara replied for all the world to hear: “Negative, negative. Our destination is Gaza.”
They succeeded even though, despite the usual accusations of Israel doing a poor public-relations job with this latest crisis, since May 25 the Israeli Foreign Ministry has posted information clearly refuting the myth of the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza” that was the ostensible justification for the flotilla, detailing instead the voluminous food, medical, building, electric, sanitation, and other supplies that regularly cross into Gaza from Israel.
But those are mere facts, something the world doesn’t want to be confused with when Palestinians, Arabs, or other Muslims manage to provoke yet another bloody media confrontation with Israel. And so, in absolutely de rigueur, numbingly predictable fashion, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon professed to be “shocked by reports of killing of people in boats carrying supply to Gaza,” Israel’s purported “friend” French president Nicolas Sarkozy condemned “the disproportionate use of force,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he “deplore[d] the loss of life,” the European Union called for a comprehensive inquiry into Israel’s actions, the UN Security Council was set to meet in emergency session—and so on ad nauseam.
This, of course, being relatively restrained compared to the Arab and Muslim world, where, for instance, Turks in Istanbul chanted “Israel you will drown in blood,” Israel’s “peace partner” Mahmoud Abbas condemned the “massacre” and proclaimed three days of mourning in the Palestinian Authority, Israeli-Arab Member of Knesset Mohammad Barakeh said “the crimes of the pirate government” were “beyond international and human law” and “tyrants like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will find themselves in the suitable place in the garbage can of history,” and the noted humanitarian, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said, “All these acts indicate the end of the heinous and fake regime and will bring it closer to the end of its existence”—for which he can expect to be rewarded with his next invitation to address the UN.
Much was also made of the fact that the commando boarding was carried out in international waters—as if to introduce a new norm in international relations where, for instance, a ship carrying WMD cargo in the middle of the Atlantic would have to be allowed to sail all the way to U.S. territorial waters before it could be interdicted; as if interdictions in international waters of ships breaking embargos, carrying illegal weapons, and so on were not common occurrences—except, of course, when Israel, the pariah and “Jew among the nations,” dares to do it.
As for President Barack Obama, he reportedly postponed his Tuesday meeting with Netanyahu as the latter hurried back to Israel from Canada, and “expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today’s incident.” Netanyahu, for his part, also said he regretted the deaths while going so far as to affirm that Israeli troops have the right to defend themselves when their lives are in danger.
The ten or so knife-, club-, and gun-wielding jihadists killed aboard the Mavi Marmara will, then, be among the most regretted, apologized-for casualties in history, probably generating a greater total of “regret” than literally millions of unarmed civilians killed in the Congo and Sudan. Israel will again be dragged through the mud, its already threadbare legitimacy given yet another pounding. The sanctimonious hypocrisy of democratic leaders—who know just what they’d do if terrorist ships were speeding toward their waters and could, of course, handle the situation without a smidgeon of violence—is as always not pretty to see. Israel, however, has the strength to cope with the attacks, slanders, and vituperation, because it doesn’t have any choice.