Two boats headed to Gaza were intercepted by the Israeli Navy yesterday. There were no injuries or incidents. The NYT has the story:
The two boats, one Canadian and the other Irish, carried 27 pro-Palestinian activists, journalists and crew members from nine countries who were challenging Israel’s maritime blockade of the Palestinian enclave…The two boats sailed from a Turkish port on Wednesday, four months after the last international flotilla to Gaza was stalled by the Greek authorities, who held some vessels in port. Two other boats, including the Irish boat intercepted on Friday, were damaged under mysterious circumstances. The protesters alleged sabotage.Hoping to avoid a repeat of that experience, the organizers of the miniflotilla kept their plans secret until they left Turkey for international waters.
Ever since nine activists were killed by Israeli commandos raiding the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” in May 2010, Israel has done a much better job handling Gaza-bound sailors. The group of ships in the “Floptilla” failed to sail from Greece this summer – some think the Israelis sabotaged the boats; certainly Greek officials kept finding mysterious reasons why the boats weren’t seaworthy and so couldn’t leave port. This most recent expedition made it to open waters but the Israeli navy confidently and peacefully boarded the boats, diverting them to Ashdod, where the activists — committed, unlike the last batch, to non-violence — will be questioned and from whence they will soon deported.Keeping these incidents low key is what Israel needs to do. For that matter, a properly negotiated and appropriately supervised further easing for trade in and out of the Gaza Strip would be good for Palestinians and Israelis alike. Perhaps there is a bigger role for Egypt here somewhere. Success at negotiating a prisoner exchange suggests that Israel and Hamas can find agreements where their interests meet.One notes incidentally that the folks who denounce Israel for any failure to abide by UN wishes or resolutions don’t feel any better about those policies when, as in the case of the Gaza blockade, UN bodies find them legal. For some people, the UN is a beacon of light and a call to the conscience of mankind when it takes an anti-Israel stand and an irrelevant nuisance when it doesn’t.This is, no doubt, the response of a measured and careful anti-Zionism from which all tinctures of anti-Semitism have been carefully and thoroughly expunged.