Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of aid ships headed to the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday, killing 19 people passengers in a botched military raid, provoking international outrage and a diplomatic crisis.
Details of what happened remain sketchy as Israel imposed a news blackout, preventing activists on board the ships from contacting the outside world.
Dozens of activists and six Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody predawn attack which took place in international waters. The violent takeover dealt yet another blow to Israel’s already sullied international image, tarnished by war crimes accusations in the Gaza and its 3-year-old blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu — Israel’s equivalent of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, ordered the military attack. He promptly canceled a much anticipated with President Obama scheduled to take place on Tuesday.
In response, Turkey — Israel’s only Islamic ally in the region, withdrew its ambassador to Israel and called for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council as criticism and condemnations flashed across Europe and the Arab world. The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, described the raid as “state terrorism,” and said that Israel had violated international law and shown that it does not want peace in the region.
International response was swift. Some 10,000 Turks marched in protest from the Israeli consulate in Istanbul to a main city square, chanting, “Murderous Israel you will drown in the blood you shed!” Protesters had earlier tried to storm the Consulate building but were blocked by police. The flotilla also carried some 700 activists sponsored in part by a Turkish organization.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence, saying, “I am shocked by reports of killing of people in boats carrying supply to Gaza. I heard the ships were in international water. That is very bad.” He called for a “thorough investigation.”
The timing of the shocking and deadly attack — on the U.S.’s Memorial Day observed, and ordered by the cretinous Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu, and was clearly intended to poke a stick in President Obama’s eye. Mr. Obama cannot ignore the attack, pretending it’s business as usual between the U.S. and Israel. It is not. If he agrees to meet with Mr. Netanhayu, his administration’s effort at outreach with the Muslim world is effectively over.