What an Unbelievable Clusterf%$#

The Israeli Defense Forces have intercepted a convoy of ships intending to run the Israeli blockade on Gaza, and at least 9 deaths have been reported.

Considering that at least one of the passengers in the convoy was a Nobel Peace Prize winner, it looks like this an absolute disaster for Israel, and a victory for the “Free Gaza Movement”.

My first thought is that, on the part of Israel, “It is worse than a crime: it is a mistake,”* because there will be significant negative repercussions for years on Israel’s foreign policy and public diplomacy.

It’s particularly problematic because the ship was Turkish flagged, and many of the passengers and crew were Turkish, which will serve to further worsen relations with the only majority-Islamic nation which has warm diplomatic relations with Israel.

If there is something that people on both sides of the Israel/Palestinian issue can agree on, it is that Benyamin Netanyahu’s fascination with “looking tough” for his personal political advantage has always resulted in serious damage to the interests of Israel.

The “Free Gaza Movement” is not friend of Israel, nor would I expect them to be, and I think that a significant portion of their leadership has little interest in any potential de-escalation. If this were a significant interest of theirs, they would not have refused to bring letters and a package to Giliad Shalit, but realistically, work toward de-escalation is not really a big consideration for any of the 3rd party non-state actors who choose to involve themselves in the politics of this matter. (AIPAC can go Cheney themselves)

Still, I wonder how much the old saying, “luck is a residue of design,” might figure in the events of this morning in terms of the planning of this convoy.

Certainly, if the report that the boarding party was sent in carrying just pistols and paint ball guns‡ is true, there are any number of people involved in this operation who should be fired by the IDF forthwith.

On a related note, I have had a back and forth on by invitation only Stellar Parthenon BBS, regarding whether the interception itself was illegal, since it took place in international water, and I have concluded that with a formally announced blockade, it probably was.

The interdiction of shipping with armed boarding parties in international waters is routine for both drug smuggling and human trafficking.

Still, it’s a stupid thing, and the deaths are senseless.

*Joseph Fouché
Branch Rickey
And the source (Debka) is a thoroughly unreliable one.


  1. Sortition says:

    > Clusterf%$#
    Isn't "crime" the word you are looking for? An illegal attack that resulted in a massacre – imagine that the perpetrators were Muslims – what would have been your reaction? What would have been the media's reaction?

  2. Matthew G. Saroff says:

    A state of war exists, a blockade has been declared, and a blockade can extend into international waters.

    In fact, the law of war as it applies to a blockade is that a "paper" blockade is illegal, so Israel is required to attempt to intercept vessels that attempt to breach the blockade.

    You can argue whether or not the blockade itself is legal, that is whether it is designed to prevent militarily relevant material from entering or simply collective punishment, but a blockade can be executed outside of territorial waters.

    I'll post the link shortly.

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