When Islamic extremists perpetrate their violent terrorists acts against unarmed civilians, one of the first things I hear is “Why don’t Muslims stand up and condemn this action.”  Many, many do, but that doesn’t make for good TV, so the general public rarely hears about it (more on this in a future post).

I condemn violent acts against unarmed civilians, regardless of who is perpetrating them.  That is why I stand up and wholeheartedly condemn last night’s attack by Israeli forces on humanitarian aid ships bound to Gaza.  Reports are just starting to roll in, but current reports put the death toll at 16 with over 30 more injured.

For those who are unaware of the situation.  A few days ago 6 ships carrying 800 people, from 50 countries, including humanitarians, European legislators, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and an elderly Holocaust survivor, left port in Cyprus on the way to Gaza.  The ships are reportedly carrying 10 tons of aid supplies including medical supplies, electric wheelchairs, prefabricated homes and water purifiers.  20 Charities and NGO’s united under the Free Gaza movement organized the flotilla, the 10th of its kind.  Of the previous attempts about half were allowed to pass through.  But this trip would be different.

With the other ships falling back to enter later, the lead ship, the Freedom Flotilla, was stormed by Israeli commandos about 65km off the Gaza shore, reportedly while still in international waters.  Current reports indicate 16 activists killed and around 30 injured.  Israeli Defense officials report once the commandos boarded the ship they were attacked with rocks and knives and some protesters attempted to take weapons from the commandos, giving them no choice but to fire on the activists.  People attempting to use rocks and knives in self defense against commandos with automatic weapons, regardless of the reason for boarding, such a disparity should not result in the death of 16 activists.

These are the initial reports, from Israeli, Middle Eastern, and International sources, as well as some of those on board.  I’m sure in the chaos of an attack initial reports are fuzzy and will be clearer in the coming hours and days, so give me a little sack if new conflicting information comes in.  But as it stands, this is an act that is worthy of condemnation.   The unnecessary loss of life is tragic.

Update:

I have revised the title, removing the words unarmed, given the fact that the activists did use rocks, sticks, knives and a pistol taken from a soldier.  Although technically armed, I see these actions as self defense and not justification for the use of force by Israeli soldiers.  The pistol being the most dangerous weapon appears to not have been on the ship before the raid, therefor before guns were introduced to the situation, the boat was only “armed” with rocks, sticks, and knives.

Update #2:

This article was written within about 2 hours of the initial event and was consistent with the known facts at the time, but since then new information has come to light.  A good summary of what is now known can be found on Shane’s entry.  It appears that the world was duped to some extent. At least one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara, did contain people who acted aggressively, and that is the ship that contained the casualties.  The soldiers were attacked and acted in self defense.  Although it could also be said that those individuals on the ship were acting in self defense as well, considering they were traveling in international waters, at night, when suddenly a helicopter shows up and what appear to be armed men repelling down.

I’m still not convinced that Israel has the right to board ships in international waters.  This “law” has been cited often from people on both sides of the issue.  I would say that although Israel is in an armed conflict with those within their border, they are not in a declared war with Turkey, whose flag the boats were sailed under.  But considering they would have the right to board once the ships were within Israeli water, where the ships were heading, it is really a technicality.

As I said in the original article, “I’m sure in the chaos of an attack initial reports are fuzzy and will be clearer in the coming hours and days, so give me a little sack if new conflicting information comes in.  But as it stands, this is an act that is worthy of condemnation.” Given the new information, it is not a clear case of one side or the other being completely wrong and worthy of condemnation.  It appears each share some blame in the situation, it is an unfortunate situation and even more unfortunate that live were lost.

Editor’s Note: Some article links for background.

16 comments
  1. What would have the Allies done if another country was trying to run the allied blockade to supply the Axis during WWII? All this nonsense about collective punishment of Gaza forgets that the Gazans chose to elect Hamas just as the Germans chose to elect Hitler. If you choose to elect leaders that declare war on other countries, you pay the price until you change your leaders and your policies. Anyways, these are the same people who refused to allow Israel to deliver the goods after inspecting it to make sure that it had no materials that could be used for weapons by Hamas. At the same time, they refused to even deliver a letter for Schalit.

  2. “People attempting to use rocks and knives in self defense against commandos with automatic weapons”
    So are you suggesting the commandos physically attacked them first and then they fought back with rocks and knives? If yes, from where did you get that information? And if not, not really sure what you mean by “self-defense.”

    1. If a man breaks into my house and has a gun, and I grab a knife and fight back, even before he takes a shot, most regard this as self defense. If you are trying to defend yourself, waiting for someone to open fire with an automatic weapon is probably too late.

      If any group of 600 people is surrounded by gunmen with automatic weapons, there will likely be a few who show resistance with whatever they have at their disposal, it is a survival instinct. If they are the “good guys” we call them heroes, if they are the “bad guys” we call them terrorists.
      .-= Dustin Krutsinger´s last blog ..New Contributer: Dustin Krutsinger =-.

  3. Oh boy! Israel has really stepped in it this time. There are going to be repercussions.

  4. As a Jew I weep.

    For this Israel should burn to the finest ash and be swept to the winds.

  5. Israel has absolutely committed piracy and a warcrime. 15 dead and over 30 injured in Gaza Covoy Aid ship in international waters. Absolutely a warcrime and crime against humanity, as international waters belongs to everyone and Israel has no right to stop ships in international waters. Also, i don’t believe the IDF claim that it was attacked. The IDF has pattern of brutalizing and killing its victims in cold blood and claiming self defense.

    Hope the US and cronies are not able to cover this one up for apartheid Israel. This crime should not go unpunished, should go to the Hague. Otherwise, apartheid Israel will continue to commit these type of crimes because Israel thinks it is entitled to do whatever it wants with impunity, due to unconditional support from the US.

  6. Dustin, could you provide a link to where you learned of this?

    Thanks! I’m usually pro-Israel, but there are instances where I believe that they overstep. I don’t fault them for enforcing the block, but needed to demonstrate caution when boarding.

    Then again, we need all of the facts. If they were in Israeli waters, then they had every right to board that ship. If they were attacked at that point, then it is really hairy. Consider what a police officer or our own Coast Guard would do. If you attack a police officer, for instance, with a deadly weapon (a knife) then they are permitted to use deadly force it doesn’t matter if it is a knife or a gun.

    1. Ok, read up on this and no one seems to be disputing that Israel boarded in international waters which they don’t have authority to do. If this happened in Israeli waters then I’d view this differently.

      Israel stepped in it… bad.

  7. It’s always a good idea to wait and let the facts come in before jumping to conclusions, especially when the story involves Israel, because the media ALWAYS paints Israel in a negative light.

    First of all, Israel had every right to board the ship. According to the San Remo Manual that governs international humanitarian law, it is permissible under rule 67(a) to attack neutral vessels on the high seas when the vessels “are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture.”

    Second, these “peace activists” fired guns at the Israelis. One soldier suffered a serious head injury, two others were injured by gunshots and one more was stabbed.
    .-= Casey´s last blog ..Anthropic global warming theory = junk science =-.

    1. I agree with you Casey that the crew of the ship is being painted as though they were a bunch of peace-loving beatniks. IDF said of the five ships they intercepted this was the only one to violently resist, and it was sponsored by IHH which is not a peaceful organization by any stretch of the imagination.

  8. Casey – I agree with you about waiting before jumping to conclusions, but give (some of) the media a bit of credit. Just because they treat Israel’s actions with a bit of skepticism and don’t blindly agree with every action it takes under the guise of “self-defense”, doesnt really equate to painting Israel in a negative light.

    Davd – this is in no way comparable to WWII. Democracy is about the people of a sovereign nation choosing who governs and leads them, not who other nations or peoples would like to govern or lead them. To dismiss the plight of the Gazan people as just rewards for electing a Hamas government is an absolutely pathetic indication of just how highly regarding ‘democracy’ as an ideal for those in the West (I’m assuming you live in a Western democracy here), when the outcomes dont favour their interests.

    Cynical? maybe, but I’m absolutely sick of Isreal trotting out the dog whistles of ‘self-defense’, ‘terrorism’ and the Holocaust every time its actions are questioned. Just because the Jewish people were treated appallingly during Hitler’s Germany, does not give the Jewish state the right to treat other people just as appallingly. Of course I disagree with rocket attacks or whatever else Israel would like to display to the world as scars of the ‘terrorism’ it experiences, but people should remember to put this violence into context – how would you like it if the home you had lived in for generations was suddenly divided and given to others as a result of colonial guilt and ‘negotiation’.

    Have a bit of compassion.

    1. When has the media ever “blindly agreed” with an Israeli action? I can think of several media-concocted “massacres,” most notably Jenin. The early reports always have Israel as the unilateral aggressor. Only later do we find out they were attacked with deadly force and responded in kind. Only later do we find out the Palestinians were using children as human shields.

      If the Israelis were wrong to move in when the Jewish state was created, were the Palestinians wrong to move in after the diaspora? The land belonged to the Jews long before it belonged to the “Palestinians.”
      .-= Casey´s last blog ..Anthropic global warming theory = junk science =-.

  9. Dustin, regarding your update… it isn’t self-defense when Israel had a legal right under maritime law to board the ship.

    Had they not resisted no one would have died or been wounded. The crew is equally culpable in this.

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