The Iranians say the ship Infants of Gaza is due to sail on Sunday, carrying humanitarian aid and 10 pro- Palestinian activists to the Gazan shore.
The Lebanese say two more relief ships, one of them carrying just women passengers, will leave soon for Cyprus and go on from there to Gaza.
Israel has sworn to stop the ships, saying Gaza cannot become an “Iranian port.”
Navy commandos are preparing to face suicide bombers.
I feel another fiasco in the making, only this time we’re in much worse shape because we’re still reeling from the one with the Mavi Marmara. So if these Iranian and Lebanese ships come sailing toward Gaza, I say we let them through.
It’ll be a victory for Iran, Lebanon and Hamas and a humiliation for Israel, as well as for the moderate West Bank Palestinians. The problem is that if we forcibly stop the ships, especially if there’s bloodshed, which there well may be, it’ll be an even greater victory for the Islamists and an even worse humiliation for Israel and the West Bankers. There’s a clear downside to ending the blockade, but there’s no future at all in maintaining it.
The folks on the flotillas have discovered our weak spot. They’re attacking us at our least defensible point – our control over the Palestinians and their coast in Gaza, which the world opposes. These flotillas are turning our own military power against us. There are more relief ships getting ready to go to Gaza than there are captains to steer them – and the passengers will be not only Islamists, but also many decent, reasonable people, including Jews, who believe they’re doing what’s best for Palestinians and Israelis both.
“The experience of the Free Gaza Movement over the past few years, which sent half a dozen boat expeditions to deliver humanitarian aid to Gazans, suggests to many that in-your-face confrontation is the most effective way to challenge Israel and force it to change its policies,” Rami Khouri, the liberal editor-at-large of Lebanon’s Daily Star, wrote on Wednesday. “I suspect that the Free Gaza Movement’s siege-breaking ships will go down in modern history as critical elements in the struggle for justice in Palestine, aiming for conditions that allow Jews, Christians and Muslims… to live in this land with equal rights.”
Jews, Christians and Muslims may well remember the challenge and collapse of the Israeli siege of Gaza as that pivotal moment in the struggle between Zionism and Arabism in Palestine. The ships to come will clarify this in due course, because they do not challenge Israel’s existence or security, but only its inhumanity towards the Palestinians.
If this does indeed turn out to have been such a pivotal moment it will in large measure be because the world’s attention was drawn not by the siege-challengers themselves but by Israel’s irrational and unconscionable use of violence — and the Jewish state’s proclivity to make self-defense, self-destructive.
The Western media’s lack of interest in the Freedom Flotilla was perfectly evident from the fact that there were only two mainstream media journalists aboard — Paul McGeough and Kate Geraghty from the Sydney Morning Herald who secured berths at the last minute. Had the IDF not attacked the Mavi Marmara and killed civilians, this particular challenge to the siege would have been nothing more than a one day story in much of the global press — and a rather minor one at that. The Netanyahu government can take full “credit” for having given this act of civil disobedience its lasting importance. If the Israelis still fail to recognize that fact, the depth of their stupidity is staggering.
Larry Derfner is no doubt very well-intentioned in his appeal that Israel’s leaders now come to their senses, but he’s clearly realistic and without optimism when he says: “I’d feel safer if this government, as a matter of principle, tried to take as little action as possible. On everything, even the little things, but certainly on something with as much potential for catastrophe as a confrontation at sea with ships from Iran and Lebanon.”
Meanwhile, DPA reports:
Council of Europe parliamentarians Thursday called on Israel to completely lift its siege of the Gaza Strip, days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered an ease of the land blockade.
“Without prejudice to its own security,” Israel should allow goods to be delivered to the coastal enclave by land and sea, so Palestinians can enjoy “normal living conditions,” a resolution adopted by a large majority of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said.
PACE, consisting of parliamentarians from the 47 members of the Council of Europe, meets four times a year to debate topical issues and give policy advice to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The parliamentarians also criticized the Israeli raid of a Gaza- bound aid flotilla last month as a breach of international law, calling it “manifestly disproportionate.”