Gaza: Siege's end?

By Kevin Clarke| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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In the aftermath of the botched May 31 takeover of the Mavi Marama, the Netanyahu government has repeatedly been yelling "terrorist" in a crowded theater, trying to link the nine activists killed—including a 19-year old America—and 60 or so wounded as dupes of Al Qaeda, if not outright operatives of the terror network with little conclusive evidence of such a connection.

If they were al Qaeda (and if so, it's exceeding odd that Israel elected to release all the survivors within days of the ship's seizure in international waters), they must have been members of the keystone cop brigade, judging by the way they armed themselves and otherwise prepped for the arrival of Israeli paratroopers, several of whom had been captured and were being treated for injuries below deck when the IDF began its final, fatal assault on the ship. (The IDF did little better preparation apparently, arriving armed for either a tea party or deadly force but not with any intermediate suppression capacity.)

But however poorly the shipmates aboard the Mavi Marama prepared tactically, after yesterday's turnabout on the Gaza siege, no one can argue with the strategy of the humanitarian flotilla's organizers. Their goal was to break the Gaza blockade by steaming through it and forcing a confrontation that would draw international attention to the plight of Gaza's civilians, now facing widespread hunger and illness because of the degraded shelter and sanitary conditions in the refugee camps. They succeeded too well, but at great cost.

The continuing controversey over the deadly takeover of the Mavi Marama has apparently led to a heightened sense of isolation and victimhood among Israel's general population, who believe the IDF was set up by Islamic radicals who have fooled the world into feeling sorry for Gaza, (where by the way, many leading Israeli military and political leaders insist no humanitarian crisis is unfolding). Nonetheless, while denying that Israel did anything wrong in the killing of the Gaza activists, Prime Minister Netanyahu, retreating before widespread international condemnation that included a direct call to end the Gaza siege from President Obama, has decided to essentially end the blockade.

For years only a handful of items have passed Israeli screening, now thousands are being allowed in, including badly need building supplies to restore housing and infrastructure in Gaza. Netanyahu has apparently elected to accept the inevitable, particularly since the Egyptians have basically ended their cooperation with the blockade after the slaughter on the deck of the Mavi Marama.

President Obama has already rewarded Netanyahu with a rescheduled meeting between the two heads of state on July 6. Lest anyone get too excited that the decision represents a significant breakthrough on the broader goals of the Middle East peace process, Israel authorites were quick to announce the scheduled demolition of more Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, and Hamas was quick to condemn Netanyahu's gesture as insufficient.

And so it doesn't go.