My country (the rapidly unraveling state of Isra-hell) in its infinite capacity for stupidity, loudly identified a provocative trap for all to hear - and then proceeded to stomp straight into it. This is an extra-special Weekend Holyland Update, maritime edition, commado style.
Like I told you yesterday, the Gaza humanitarian aid flotilla has been en route for about a week, and scheduled to leave for two or three weeks before that. It was the seventh such flotilla, and all the previous ones were intercepted and handled with relative ease by Israel.
However, it was well known a good while before the fiasco of this early morning that this flotilla is seriously different. This one, although initiated by the same grassroots largely peaceful activists, was coopted by the Turkish government, which meant it was much larger, much better organized and far more cynically/efficiently/ruthlessly directed to the end of maximizing political potential.
Despite KNOWING this, and despite having considered several more sensible alternatives to the stupidity that actually took place (jamming the ships' rotors, using water canons or tear gas to subdue the passengers before attempting to board...), Israel's military brass - Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Navy Commander and Minister of Defense - settled on a course of action that treated it as certain that the people on the ships would react exactly as they did in the past six attempts to break the siege when their ships were commandeered - some spitting, some shoving, and nothing else.
So they prepared for the last war, as the saying goes, and told the poor commando grunts to expect no violence. So here are Israel's Navy Seals, rapelling from a chopper, each carrying a pistol and - get this, I swear this is no joke - a paintball rifle. Y'all ever done paintball? It ain't no crowd control implement. You shoot someone with that, unless you hit them in the eye or the head, it just stings like a motherfucker. No disabling action whatsoever. So what was the point of this secret weapon? I don't know, but seeing how our navy commander is a guy who thought it was safe for him in his position to be seen at strip joints, and our CoS is a guy who managed to have his pistol and credit card stolen from his super-secure office, simple stupidity can't be ruled out.
So the commandos rappel from the choppers, they see a seething crowd waiting for them on the top deck of the ship, but they keep going. They're jumped as soon as they hit the deck. One by one. Israel's vaunted commandos, (the same unit that once traveled 1200 miles, stormed a villa in a hostile country, pumped 70 holes in a terror commander without touching anyone else and returned to their subs and back home unscathed) - heirs to that tradition are getting their asses kicked by a crowd weilding crowbars and chairs some kitchen knives and box cutters. A couple get clubbed, one gets shanked and one gets tossed over a rail into the drink. Realizing they walked like a bunch of idiots into a seriously dangerous situation totally unprepared, they have no choice but to draw their firearms and start shooting. They claim that some of the activists managed to snatch the pistols from a couple soldiers and shoot some other soldiers. Funny how the video IDF Spokesman released, in an attempt to show the "brutal, barbaric violence" by the activists shows the crowbars, and the knives, and the tossing of the one commando over the rail, and even a stun grenade and a molotov cocktail, but no snatching of or firing of a pistol. Can you spell "friendly fire", boys and girls?
Anyway, a few bang-bangs later, at least 9 (some say 10, some as many as 19) activists lay dead. Between 30-60 lay wounded, some seriously, and seven soldiers also injured, three in serious but not life threatening condition and the rest medium to lightly wounded.
To compound the humiliation, all Israeli sources, from military brass to journalists down to the commandos themselves, keep using the word "lynch", going so far as to describe their ordeal as "like the Ramallah lynch, just at sea". In the Ramallah lynch in 2000, two Israeli reservists took a wrong turn in the Palestinian city, were blocked, arrested by Palestinian cops who confiscated their weapons, then a mob snatched them from the cops and tore them limb from limb. Yup, sounds exactly like commando fighters willingly rappeling from a chopper onto a ship in international waters in order to execute a violent takeover - basically an act of piracy on the high seas.
As @summersumz put it on Twitter: If you rappel onto someone's ship from a chopper, nothing you subsequently do can be called "self defense".
The demagogic whining doesn't end there: Israel's acting UN ambassador brayed about how the cold-weapon resistance proved that "these were no peace activists, no emissaries of goodwill". Um, they didn't pose as "peace activists" but as "humanitarian aid", which is not synonymous, and any goodwill they purported to have was for the besieged people of Gaza and not the non-reality-based military forces of Israel doing the besieging. All clear now?
It took until the evening for the dominant tone in Israeli media to change from "what a mess, but hey, it's their fault!!!" to "well, maybe we should've been both 'right' AND 'smart'...", and for word to start trickling out that the poor commando grunts are none too happy about being sent like idiots with the wrong intel and wrong gear, or as one guy put it "they sent us with toys to a war!" Because when you try to hijack a ship on the high seas, being treated like its war is simply shocking! And, um, not NICE!
Concurrently, the top economic writer for Israel's leading rag, Yediot Aharonot, says that his paper and others had info that top IDF commanders were opposed to the stupid operation, but they refused to share this info with their readers. As a jounralist, I have no words for how sickening I find this betrayal of the reportorial calling.
The readers, btw, are mostly happy to be treated as eejits, nodding along vigorously when their media repeats the insane lies about "Lynchings", "self defense" and "having to protect our soveriegnty" (in international waters, from a ship with no offensive capabilities or intention of entering our territorial waters [our waters, not Gaza's, which, in case anyone forgot, are not actually the same thing] or reaching any of our ports). Some of them are organizing protests against Turkey, cause it's all Turkey's fault our leaders are inept whining criminal fucktards. Menawhile, in Turkey, thousands have been surrounding Israeli diplomatic missions since the shit hit the fan early in the morning.
Turkey recalled its ambassador from Israel for consultation, most countries around the world condemned the killings and the UN security council members called on Israel to cease its Gaza blockade. And that's just the beginning of the fallout. Lucky the 86 year old holocaust survivor didn't join the journey at the last minute, that none of the foreign legislators and dignitaries (like nobel winner Mirread Corrigan Maguire) were hurt and that contrary to initial reports, Israeli-based Islamic leader Raed Salah was not in fact hurt.
There's tons more to be said, but this covers some of the main bases, and should be enough to get the discussion going. Thank you for sailing the stupid seas.