UN: Gaza blockade legal, Israeli force excessive

UN: Gaza blockade legal, Israeli force excessive

As last week closed, the NY Times published an article on the official United Nations report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident. The report determined that the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza is legal under international law, but that the force that Israel used was “excessive and unreasonable.” Still, it indicated that Israeli commandos faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers”; Israel saw this as a vindication of sorts and a rare victory at the UN.  
The UN findings are pretty much as I saw the event at the time.  A naval blockade to guard Israel against the shipment of arms into a hostile area, from which numerous attacks have been and continue to be launched on sovereign Israeli territory, is justified and legal.  At the same time, something seems to have gone wrong (perhaps in a lack of preparedness by the commandos attacked as they boarded the
Mavi Marmara), resulting in nine deaths.  

One result of this incident in June 2010 is that Israel’s overland blockade of Gaza has reportedly been eased.  I fail to see the security justification in Israeli officers deciding, as they reportedly did in the past, that Gazans should eat pasta and not rice (or vice versa).  And the virtual imprisonment of the civilian population of Gaza was also overly harsh; for example, why was it that students admitted to study in US universities were not permitted to leave?  Now with the controlled opening of Gaza’s border with Egypt, this is surely no longer happening.  Still, Israel has an ongoing right to monitor imports to Gaza for any influx of arms as part of its basic right to self-defense.

The sudden release of this report, however, may cost Israel dearly.  Turkey has downgraded its relations with Israel, expelling Israel’s ambassador, and is moving to end its traditionally close military and economic ties.  Although Israel has refused to issue “an apology” as demanded by Turkey, it has expressed “regret” and offered compensation.  Now Turkey’s foreign minister is reported to be “furious” over the leaking of the UN report, which he sees as flawed.

Israel could surely have handled things better, then and now, but Turkey’s behavior may be more influenced by domestic politics and its new strategic orientation toward the Arab world than an objective assessment of the facts

By | 2011-09-06T16:50:00-04:00 September 6th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

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