Along with shooting nine peace activists during their attack on the peace flotilla this week, Israeli commandos may have shot themselves in the foot: One of the consequences of Israel's heavy-handed attempt to enforce its illegal blockade of Gaza might be an increased "blockade" of Israel itself, according to a prominent Israeli journalist.
Gideon Levy, a columnist for Israel's leading daily newspaper, Haaretz, and a member of the paper's editorial board, decried the raid as a "fiasco" in support of a mistaken and failed policy -- the blockade of Gaza -- and said it accomplished nothing positive. He wrote:
Yesterday's fiasco could and should have been prevented. This flotilla should have been allowed to pass and the blockade should be brought to an end. ... There was not even a sign of a gain. And what have we instead? A country that is quickly becoming completely isolated. This is a place that turns away intellectuals, shoots peace activists, cuts off Gaza, and now finds itself in an international blockade. Once more yesterday it seemed, and not for the first time, that Israel is increasingly ... losing touch with the world -- which does not accept its actions and does not understand its motives.
The Haaretz columnist also criticized what he called Israel's "pathetic focus on 'public relations,'" and the "false claim that it was they who had started it -- and not the landing of commandos from helicopters on a ship in open sea, away from Israeli territorial waters." While not excusing the actions of activists who tried to ward off the attacking Israeli commandos using "pipes and ball bearings," Levy said that "The Israel Defense Forces too came out looking bad again. ... More and more there is the impression that nearly everything it touches causes harm to Israel."
For Levy, the attack on the peace flotilla was part of a pattern of misbehavior by Israeli military forces, which echoed last year's attack on Gaza by Israeli Defense Forces that left some 1,400 Palestinians dead. "Once more the use of violence and excessive and lethal force was in play," Levy wrote, "and once more civilians wound up dead."
Until the blockade of Gaza ends -- and, more significantly, until the illegal occupation by Israel of Palestinian territory is reversed -- we can only expect more of these tragic, but preventable, events in the days to come. The result is not only an increased threat to peace in the region, but to Israel's security as well.
Jim Rice is editor of Sojourners.