Conflict in Israel: What’s Happening Now.
Early yesterday morning, one of the elite Navy Combat Unity intercepted and boarded a Turkish boat full of humanitarian supplies bound for Gaza in International waters. there were 5 other boats alongside that were not boarded. In total, there were 500 or so protesters, most of them Turkish. Without speculating on who attacked who first, these are the facts. There are 19 dead Turkish Protesters (to be honest, I don’t know the nationalities of all the fatalities as 20 countries were represented on the boat, including a European MP). I think between 3-5 Israel soldiers were also severely injured. As of now, I don’t know how many protesters were injured or to what degrees the injuries sustained represent.
Loss of life is always disastrous. Period. Regardless of nationality. 19 families are no longer complete. That in and of itself is a tragedy.
I urge you to read this Q and A from CNN.com in order to get the quick facts. It is not long.
Additionally, there are many YouTube videos documenting the actual fight. I am posting a few videos that were released by the IDF and one that was taken by a passenger on the ship. There are also videos that are posted by al-Jezeera, but truth be told, they make me sick. One passenger gets hit with a paintball, and the reported panics for 10 seconds saying this man will die soon, then calms down, walks to the next area and speaks normally and calmly. Show business, thats it.
Warning: These are violent videos. Worst of all, they are real footage. In the passenger’s video, you actually see and IDF soldier get stabbed with a knife (no blood or gore though). With that being said, this is the IDF video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYjkLUcbJWo
This is the passengers video it includes both IDF footage (in grey) and other footage in colour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaiMjAULWn0
Questions to ponder: Were they warned? Yes, they were. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6jDIQr59Sk&feature=related
Who attacked first? Let’s see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLrX7fznVgI&feature=related Lets put it this way. After warning the ship to alter it’s course, the Marines boarded the ship by helicopter. Did the ‘ask’ permission to board the ship that was still in International waters. I don’t think they asked. I think they warned them, though (though not recorded in YouTube warning video). Now, what you can see in this last ‘birds eye’ video is that as the first soldier dropped down, he was immediately attacked, thrown to the ground and later thrown off a 10-12 meter drop to the bottom deck. The first soldiers boarded with Paintball guns. the later soldiers boarded with live ammunition. Back to the question, who struck first? Answer: It may not be known definitively who threw the first punch, but one thing is for certain, the IDF did NOT board the boat to kill. It was explained to me by at Lt. Colonol and Base Commander that the IDF soldiers were expecting passive resistance. Not a riot and therefore brought paint ball guns.
The issue of International Waters is a tricky one. the Lt. Colonol explained to me that if a vessel is on course to enter territorial waters and the host country has sufficient reason to believe that it is dangerous to its citizens, it may intercept the ship in international waters. The majority of the global media does not share this opinion.
What were the protesters thinking and what were the Israeli’s thinking? Tough one. The protesters wanted to make a point and protest. they were successful in this regard. Israel appears to be the savage regime that holds seige it’s own inhabitants. The UN claims that Gaza only receives a small portion of the aid and basic human needs that are required to sustain 1.5 million people. 80% of this 1.5 million rely on international aid on a daily basis and now Israel is rejecting 10-15 tonnes of aid? Israel, is now under enormous pressure to bring down the siege and open the borders of Gaza to allow goods to move freely into the area which has been demonstrated to be the only the way to securely protect the citizens of Israel. It is in this regard that Israel can monitor what is placed at the hands of one of the most volatile and violent populations within Israeli borders.
What was Israel thinking? This was the top navel unit in the army. they were ambushed. why were they ambushed? because they did not have sufficient intelligence on the vessel or the people in it to probably research and implement a strategic mission. As a result, people died. Why did soldiers drop down one by one from a helicopter? Why not bring in a big boat, maneuver it in front of their boat at the international border and force it to change course in a passive aggressive way? The army is bigger, stronger, and deadlier then anything these protesters could have brought. It is up to the Israeli army to engage peacefully and without casualties. At the same time as I mentioned earlier, safety of Israeli citizens is paramount and non-negotiable. I respect the army made to engage and I think they made the right call. As seen in the warning video, they could have used civilian channels and have monitored the distribution of their resources personally. They chose not to.
What does this mean, politically? Israel is in a big mess. Cancelling a rescheduled meeting with Obama also does not help matters, especially when the US voted against Israel at the recent Anti-Proliferation Nuclear Summit promoting a nuclear free middle east. Israel stood alone on that one. Additionally, Turkey is a NATO country, just like Canada. It is also Israel’s biggest ally in the immediate area. Turkey is preparing another vessel to come to Gaza, and this time it will be accompanied by the Turkish Navy. Act of War? Act of Defense? Once again, Iran is calling for the destruction of the Israeli regime, the majority of European countries are calling for investigations and threatening to impose sanctions on Israel. All flights to and from Turkey have also been suspended as a precaution. Additionally, 600 people are being detained in Israel, some have already been sent to prison, some have requested deportation, some of refused deportation, and many refuse to give identification.
What does this mean, personally for the everyday citizen? The Lt. Coronal that I spoke to has been given an extensive list of streets and villages that he cannot pass through. Cars with Israeli license plates are being pelted by rocks in arab villages, and I have been warned by people on the kibbutz as well as at the high school to stay away from certain areas including the arab owned supermarket that is 10 minutes away from the high school. Previously, I did all my grocery shopping there. Practically speaking, except for the grocery store, nothing changes. I pay a little bit more attention to the news and when I go for a bike ride, i will stop a few hundred metres before I come to the Arab village of Tarshicha (which has AMAZING humos). Rhianna will still preform in the next few weeks in Tel Aviv as well as all the other A-list concerts. The situation and our immediate vicinity will be re-examined in a week.
Please pass this blog entry along to Jews and non- jews alike who may be interested or who have questions about this present conflict. The truth is sometimes hard to decipher especially in a global media network. With that being said, I welcome comments and questions.