Israel vs the activists, round two. Now what?

DAN-CHYI CHUA
Jun 04, 2010
*Special to asia!

Nine are dead after Israel's raid on the Turkish aid ship to Gaza on Monday. With another boat intending to to break the naval blockade this weekend, will the Israelis do the right thing this time?

That, I am afraid, is a question no one can answer. For a start, what is the right thing to do?

Clearly, preventing more deaths would be one, even if not from a humanitarian point of view, then cynically to at least make up for the bumbling act that is the current Israeli leadership. But what about another raid to stop the boat from approaching, in the name of Israeli national security? Does the Israeli army have a better entry and exit strategy? Do they have better intelligence as to what to expect this time?

That, I am afraid, is a question no one can answer. For a start, what is the right thing to do?

Clearly, preventing more deaths would be one, even if not from a humanitarian point of view, then cynically to at least make up for the bumbling act that is the current Israeli leadership. But what about another raid to stop the boat from approaching, in the name of Israeli national security? Does the Israeli army have a better entry and exit strategy? Do they have better intelligence as to what to expect this time?

Does Israel even have the right to raid the boat like it did the Turkish ship Mavi Mamara in international waters on Monday?

The arguments are still raging on those very issues. And nothing has been resolved, even as the MV Rachel Corrie leads another smaller flotilla towards Gaza.

Today began with the Israeli media quoting the army radio as saying that they have turned around, away from Gaza.  A spokesman for the voyage reportedly said it was because two accompanying vessels had been “sabotaged” by the army. Hours later, the word from the boat was that it is not turning back, but will reach Gaza within a day.

 

On the Rachel Corrie...


The MV Rachel Corrie is said to be carrying 19 people on board, of whom six are Malaysians, five Irish and eight crew members.

According to the Malaysian newspaper, the Star, those on board include:

veteran journalist Shamsul Akmar, lawyer Matthias Chang, Parit MP Nizar Zakaria, activist Ahmad Faizal Azumu and TV3 crew members Halim Mohamed and Jufri Junid.

Among the Irish are Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and former UN Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday.

...Israel is finding itself well-trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea.

The Rachel Corrie is an Irish-owned boat and this voyage is co-sponsored by the Malaysian Pedana Global Peace Organisation, of which former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is a patron.

Dr Mahathir earlier told al-Jazeera television, “The ships will proceed until they are stopped. If they are stopped, they will appeal for safe passage.”

Taking a leaf from what happened with the Mavi Mamara, the spokesman for this latest voyage said in a statement

“... we are going to make sure the Rachel Corrie is well protected and that Israel is put on notice that anything that happens to her, the passengers and the crew will rest with Israel. As a result of these threats, we're going to pull Rachel Corrie into a port, add more high-profile people on board, and insist that journalists from around the world also come with us.”

 


This is a fight that is going to be played out in real-time under the media spotlight. Israel failed to grasp the significance of this in the last round, imposing a media blackout and taking almost a day to release its footage of the soldiers being beaten, as they approached the Mavi Mamara.

The videos became some of the most watched on youtube, but the ratings meant nothing. Public opinion had been formed and was exploding in a fury of anti-Israel demonstrations all over the world.

Explaining what happened during Monday's raid has not turned that wave of seething hatred around. Neither has screaming provocation and bloody lynching. If anything, a more intelligent and sensible handling of this second flotilla with no casualties may, if even that is not too little, too late.

As for the right thing to do, well, that all depends on whether you ask those who back or condemn Israel's raid on the Mavi Mamara.

Facing scathing international backlash and a hostile Hamas government on its borders in Gaza, Israel has found itself well-trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea.

 

dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for theasiamag.com, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

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