Israel has rejected UN demands for an external probe of the Gaza raid, and instead has announced that it is to administer an internal investigation. Israel, trying to somewhat appease the international community, has added “two foreign observers” to the commission. The observers include Irish Nobel Prize laureate David Trimble, and Canada’s former Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Forces Ken Watkin. David Trimble, one of the “foreign observers,” recently joined a Friends of Israel group. If Israel is to include outsiders in the internal probe, it should at least let them be chosen by an external party. The “observers” should also have an active participating role; simply observing the commission and not offering their input seems futile. The structure of the commission is inhibiting in other ways as well. The commission must use summaries of the events, as soldiers cannot be directly questioned. It can ask for more information if not satisfied, though there is no guarantee they will receive more information (BBC).
The purposes of the commission are to: examine the “security circumstances” of the naval blockade on Gaza and whether this conforms to international law, decide if the actions of May 31st, conform to the principles of international law, and consider the actions of those who organized and took part in the flotilla “and their identities” (BBC). The last requirement, not surprisingly, shifts the focus away from Israel and tries to make them the victims. This culture of victimization and no sense of accountability will no doubt result in another travesty of justice. (more…)
Just a few minutes ago an interview with former CNI board member and frequent host of our radio show “CNI Jerusalem Calling”, Ambassador Edward Peck, was released by ABC News, giving an insider’s account of what actually occurred between the flotilla and the Israeli navy. In the interview, Ambassador Peck recounts his experience and deportation. He mentions that he and the other people captured were kept in isolation and knew very little about what was going on. He also mentions that another US citizen, Paul Larudee, was injured and remains in an Israeli hospital.
In addition, more countries have stepped forward to condemn the Israeli actions. The EU and Russia issued a joint statement earlier today condemning Israel’s actions and use of force, even going so far as to call for an end to the blockade on Gaza. Shortly after, France joined them in calling for the release of the civilian activists being held.
Even Hamas and Fatah seem united in condemning the attacks and urging the international community to open the borders into Gaza. Today, the PA’s Interior Ministry announced that the Rafah crossing has been opened and restrictions lifted. And Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, released a statement arguing that this attack could help unify Palestinians, stating
“Israel’s crime today is an opportunity for Palestinian unity on the right national platform. It is also an opportunity for the Arab world to re-take the initiative today and to take a strong position against the Israeli bullying and to open the Rafah crossing and to end the siege once and for all.”
Could this attack provide the catalyst for re-opening negotiations between Hamas and the PA? And could it possibly push the international community to get more involved in helping the Gazans and permanently lifting the blockade?
The international community is in a furor after yesterday’s events on the Gaza flotilla that left at least 9 activists dead by the hands of the IDF. Major protests were sparked around the world, from Paris to Istanbul, against the actions of Israel. Strong condemnation was elicited from the UN, though the U.S. had it watered down a bit, Turkish PM Erdogan, who called the raid a “massacre,” the EU, and many other nations. It is clear that most of the world is united such condemnation of Israel, and the state is facing further isolation than ever before.
It is difficult to fathom what went wrong on this humanitarian mission, and the UN has called for an impartial inquiry into the raid. Naturally, there are two differing narratives. The Free Gaza flotilla left Cyprus with the intention of trying to open up three year blockade on Gaza by delivering 10,000 tons of aid. Israel intercepted the flotilla 40 miles away from the Gaza coast, though its formal blockade of Gaza only extends 25 miles off the coast. When the flotilla said its destination was Gaza and would not stop, Israeli forces proceeded to board the ships. Under the UN Charter on the Law of the Sea, a vessel can only be boarded in international waters if it is suspected to be transporting weapons or weapons of mass destruction. Seaborne special forces, which are trained for combat and not crowd control, proceeded to board. (more…)
United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s recent visit to the Gaza Strip, and his expression of bewilderment and outrage at the peril of those blockaded within the small territory begs the question; what sort of Gaza would Israel find acceptable?
Military strikes against Gaza and its cross border tunnels, on which the Gazan economy has become dependent, have been renewed in recent weeks. Many children in Gaza suffer from malnourishment, which is known to cause stunted growth as well as stunted brain development. Combine this with the fact that many of the same children have no access to a remotely proper education and one has a recipe for the creation of a new generation of violent extremists; the central argument proponents of the blockade will put forth to begin with. However, we have all heard the statistics and arguments before and a few questions need to be raised about the dire nature of the situation. Only the future remains in question. (more…)