What country sends its soldiers to carry out a raid on a civilian ship, killing several people, and then blames the people on the ship for all the murder and mayhem? Israel. The head of the Israel Defence Force (IDF – a misnomer if ever there was one) was quoted as saying after the deadly attack on a flotilla of ships carrying activists from all over the world trying to break through Gaza’s naval blockade (in place since 2007) the following: "There is no connection between what occurred on the ship and peace efforts and humanitarian aid. Our forces were met with extreme violence from cold weapons, and in once instance, from firearms that were snatched from our fighters." So, General Gaby Ashkenazi is saying that the soldiers of the much-vaunted Israeli army had to use all the resources – read weapons – at its disposal to quell the resistance it apparently faced from activists who were trying to break through the naval blockade. Perhaps one should ask the IDF chief if this indeed was the case, how come not a single Israeli soldier was killed or even wounded but 20 activists died?
The Israeli version has been contested by a reporter accompanying the activists who said that Israeli commandos began firing before they boarded the ship. At least 10 of the dead are reported to be Turkish citizens and three Pakistanis, including a well-known journalist, are on board one of the ships. We hope that Israel’s chief backer, America, will have some strict words to say to Tel Aviv after its latest exhibition of savagery and barbarism. There is absolutely no ground for justifying what Israel has done and to say, as Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Monday, that the activists were ‘asking for it’ makes a mockery of logic and common sense. Israel’s response was disproportionate and borders on criminal given that the activists on the ships were not going to Gaza to fight a war but carrying aid for the beleaguered residents of the city. A word of advice for Washington — since that seems to be the only voice that Tel Aviv listens to. Please realise that it is your unequal treatment of Israel and Palestine which enables Taliban and al Qaeda to find ready recruits.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 1st, 2010.