The first two parts of this growing series on the Israeli attack on the aid convoy heading to Gaza try to sort through the mess of reports to find some facts; part 3 contains some updates from around the world; part 4looks at some of the reactions in the global press; and part 5 looks at official reactions from around the world, including the subdued American statement and the Israeli justification. Part 6 reviews the statements made by various peace organizations while part 7 reviews yet more reaction from the press. Part 8 compares the video footage released by Israel and the Flotilla organizers.
I won’t up this morning with the intention of writing a little about the new National Security Strategy, but unfortunately saw that Israel has attacks the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ that is bringing aid and activists to Gaza in an effort to decrease the suffering caused by the illegal Israeli blockade. Chase’s original post is here, Al Jazeera here, New York Times here, Haaretz here and BBC here. Reports have varied, but all report between 10-16 activists were killed and up to 50 people were injured. Importantly, the ships were stormed in international waters, making the attack by Israel more questionable.
[tweetmeme] After this attack on unarmed (Israeli forces are trying to justify the killings by saying that the activists had knives and one tried to grab a soldier’s gun; “The people on the boats were very, very violent toward the soldiers” said an Israeli military spokeswoman) international activists, one has to wonder what the American reaction will be. Reactions from elsewhere are predictable. Turkish protesters tried to storm the Israeli embassy and the Turkish government has summoned the Israeli ambassador, saying that “”[The interception on the convoy] is unacceptable … Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behavior.”
Palestinian President Abbas has called the clash a massacre and Ismail Haniyeh – the Hamas leader in Gaza – is calling on Fatah to break its indirect talks with Israel. Richard Silverstein is calling on Obama to cancel his meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu (scheduled for Tuesday), though Bibi might beat him to it and has contemplating postponing his trip to Washington. Israeli, meanwhile, has sealed the borders to Gaza, put all military units on standby and has thought about restricting access to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
[tweetmeme] This crisis is probably going to kill the weak and fragile indirect talks between the Palestinians and Israelis. One will hardly be surprised to hear throughout the day that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are angry and protesting. It is not unlikely that there is enough violence to postpone talks, if not end them. Though, perhaps more worrisome is the possibility of a third intifada breaking out over the attacks.
There are reports that Sheikh Raed Saleh – the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel and a major Muslim presence in Israel – has been seriously injured during the IDF attack; Ma’an reports that the Sheikh has been killed. If the Sheikh turns out to have been murdered, his followers – a good majority of Israeli-Arabs – could turn against the state. From Haaretz:
But the central story here is Israel’s Arabs. If Salah is indeed among the casualties, the result could be a wave of riots led by Islamic Movement activists. Targeted provocations by Islamists and left-wing activists will now take on strategic significance. Under certain circumstances, and if both sides fail to take steps to clam the situation, this could even end in a third intifada, or Palestinian uprising.
Though there are many reactions from governments from around the world, I have been unable to find an official American response. From Jazeera:
The European Union has called for an inquiry into the attack. Individual European governments are also starting to issue statements: Sweden’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt, said his government summoned the Israeli ambassador “to get information.”
Kuwait’s parliament is due to hold an emergency meeting today to discuss the raid. Waleed al-Tabtabai, a member of parliament, was one of 16 Kuwaiti nationals on board the ships.
The Syrian government has called for an Arab League meeting to discuss the attack.
I will be keeping my eye out for an American reaction today. As Silverstein points out, the last American-Israeli crisis was caused when the Israeli government announced plans for Jewish housing in occupied East Jerusalem when VP Joe Biden was in Israel. Now, the day before Bibi is set to meet with the American President, Israel attacks international activists in international waters in order to uphold an illegal blockade – Bibi was probably wise to cancel his meeting with Obama. The important question is what kind of reaction we will get from Obama. Look for updates.
Photo from Washington Post