Itâ€™s interesting in the light of last nights events to watch the blogosphere and tweets that are going round to see how a persons pre-existing views on the Israeli Palestinian conflict affect their comments on the actions of Israel. Pro Israeli supporters have come out with the line that:
The Freedom Flotilla was nothing more than a Hamas supporters club who was aiming to break the Gaza blockade to deliver arms to Hamas terrorists.
The Israeli navy warned the flotilla not to proceed and was ignored.
IDF troops peacefully boarded the ships only to be attacked by a mob who threw fire bombs, used knives and other club like weapons to lynch the troops.
Only when the soldiers were being overcome by this vengeful mob did the IDF use appropriate force to defend themselves and unfortunately during the fighting in which numerous IDF soldiers were seriously wounded 9 people were killed and 30 more were injured.
Obviously anyone who disagrees with this line of events or wants the Gaza blockade to end for humanitarian reasons is an anti-semite who supports Hamas and wishes to see Israel destroyed.
A video released from the IDF and shot from one of their helicopters is shown below and has been used to support the point of view that the IDF were doing nothing wrong when they invaded the boats in the dead of night and international waters.
Then there is the other side of the story which is thatÂ the Freedom Flotilla was in international waters at the time it was attacked by Israeli troops who boarded their boats like Somalian pirates in the dead of night.
International law allows every country in the world to sail the open seas without constraint. Whilst the Israeliâ€™s may not have wanted the flotilla to reach their waters they had no right to board them outside their own territorial boundaries.
Therefore is it no surprise that the people on board chose to fight to protect themselves with whatever rudimentary weapons they had available.
If the boats were full of illegalÂ armamentsÂ on its way to Hamas as Israel claims then surely there would have been a much bigger fire fight when the IDF attacked rather than a few people using metal bars or trying to steal the guns from the soldiers as the Israelis themselves have claimed.
If Israel didnâ€™t want this turning into the massive PR disaster it has become then they should have waited until the boats were inside their waters and then blocked their entry towards the port. Only as a last resort should they have boarded the ships.
So there are two sides of the story being played out across the blogosphere and web with passion on both sides and I donâ€™t doubt that there are people who have anti this and that feelings who are using this as an excuse to bash Israel however we must not forget the reason for the flotilla in the first place.
Itâ€™s only been a year or so sinceÂ Operation Cast Lead killed hundreds of children and women and destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza but it has been out of the public consciousness for a while. The flotilla aimed to get it back in peoples minds and remind them that the people of Gaza are suffering immensely.
Gaza is a huge open prison camp in whichÂ a UN report states that much of the infrastructure destroyed in Operation Cast Lead still has not been redeveloped in fact three quarters of the damage inflicted on buildings and infrastructure remains unrepaired and unreconstructed.
The blockade of Gaza means that only basic foods and limited supplies are allowed into the territory and people desperate for medicines and other forms of health care often go without.
Aid agencies agree that the people of Gaza are suffering:
The agency calculates that more than 80% of all goods currently allowed into Gaza are basic foods, such as fruit, dairy, flour, oil and sugar. Oxfam said that the tap has been turned off on essential goods needed for agriculture and rebuilding as well as clothing, shoes and supplies for education.
One of the gravest consequences of the closure is soaring unemployment, which reached 44 per cent in April 2009, according to the Gaza Chamber of Commerce. Restrictions on imports and exports of goods imposed since June 2007 have shut down 96% of industrial operations in Gaza, with the loss of about 70,000 jobs. This has also had a severe impact on the capacity to export products to Israel and the West Bank, which has become almost impossible.
The collapse of the Gaza economy has led to a dramatic increase in poverty. An ICRC household survey conducted in May 2008 showed that, even then, over 70 per cent of Gazans were living in poverty, with monthly incomes of less than 250 US dollars for a family of 7 to 9 members.
Could you live on humanitarian aid alone?
Could you survive with no job, no clean water and not enough food or medicine?
Yes but Gaza is controlled by Hamas you might say and Hamas fires rockets into Israel.
Yes they do butÂ not everyone who lives in Gaza supports Hamas and I wouldÂ ask all those people who voted Republican or Labour at the last election and have to live under the rule of a party that you didnâ€™t vote for, would you like to live like the people of Gaza do?
The Freedom Flotilla was not as itâ€™s being claimed by pro-Israeli supporters full of Hamas terrorists but instead full of peace activists, members of European parliaments and other groups who wanted to end the blockade of Gaza. Whilst there may have been on board many who disagree with the blockade and support Hamas this does not equate as theÂ Israeli foreign office is saying to a armada full of terrorists.
The International community has failed the people of Gaza and only a massive public protest like this will wake up the people of the world to the suffering that is being carried out with our support.
Is it any wonder that the people of Gaza chose to vote in Hamas after the decades of Fatah rule that achieved nothing?
The many UN resolutions that are passed against Israel are often ignored or vetoed with US support and there seems to be no end in sight. Whilst the actions of Hamas are deplorable they can be understood in the same way as other groups who fought for their homeland are often tolerated by those who donâ€™t have to live with their consequences.
The last century has been full of people fighting for their homeland and that includes Israeli Jews who fought the British initially using what can only be described as acts of terrorism and murder. Therefore these issues are not black and white and just because you support the people of the Gaza it does not mean support for rockets fired into Israel.
What we know for certain is that there is a massive hypocrisy involved in the Israeli Palestinian problem and the Israeliâ€™s seem to be able to carry out crimes that no other country would often with impunity.
Not only can they destroy the USS Liberty and claim it was an accident but they can kidnap journalists andÂ assassinateÂ opponents wherever they may be and the Gaza war which the UN claimed was in fact collective punishment of a whole population and therefore illegal under international law has gone unpunished along with the numerous war crimes carried out by the IDF that were outlined in theÂ Goldstone report.
The tide is slowly turning against Israel and no longer can the cry of anti-semitism be used to ignore legitamite criticism of illegal or immoral acts.
I like to think that the same people who are supporting the rights of the people stuck in Gaza would be Â those that spoke out against the Naziâ€™s treatment of the Jews in 30â€™s Germany. I may be wrong however the two are not totally unrelated and those who support Israel no matter what she does should think about the similarities between the two. Hypocrisy is never a nice attribute to possess and what is good for one should be enough for another.
Whatever the truth in last nights events I hope some good comes out of them and that the blockade of Gaza is lifted as soon as possible.
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