by Alan Dershowitz
Now is the time to assess the flotilla situation carefully and methodically.
The deaths and injuries on board the Gaza flotilla once again demonstrate how easy it is for radical supporters of terrorism to provoke a democracy into committing acts that will incur the condemnation of the international community.
Let there be no mistake about the goal of the flotilla. It was not to provide aid to Gaza.
The proof of that obvious reality is that the leaders of the flotilla rejected an Israeli offer to send the food and medical supplies to Gaza through the Israeli port of Ashdod. They wanted a military confrontation with casualties. That is why some of them were chanting Jihadist slogans such as “ Khaibar, khaibar, oh Jews. The army of Muhammed will return.” This was a reference to the slaughter of Jews by Muhammed in the 7th century. In an interview with Al Jazeera, one of the leaders demanded “Martyrdom” or victory. They seem to have achieved both.
The United Nations is now ready to pounce on Israel, without even hearing the Israeli side of the story or viewing videotapes that show Israeli commandoes being beaten, stabbed and clubbed by so called “peaceful protesters”. Nor are those who are rushing to condemn Israel interested in the rules of engagement issued by Israel, under which their marines were told to fire harmless paintballs unless their lives were threatened.
This is not to say that the Israeli actions were wise, especially in light of the long lead-time they had to prepare for this well planned provocation. But their actions were not illegal under international law. The blockade of Gaza, a terrorist enclave that has engaged in repeated acts of armed aggression against Israeli civilians, is supported by Egypt and other nations. Although the flotilla was boarded in international waters, the intent to enter the coastal area of Gaza was clear and undisputed. A sovereign nation need not wait until the line is unlawfully crossed when the intruders have made known their determination to cross the line. The United States and other western countries have boarded ships in international waters over the years to enforce blockades and to protect security.
When Israeli marines were attacked by lethal weapons, they had the absolute right to defend themselves and protect their fellow soldiers. Whether they acted reasonably and proportionately can be known only after a thorough investigation, which the Israeli authorities should begin immediately.
The immediate confrontation has now ended, with too much loss of life and too many injuries. There is now time to assess the situation carefully and methodically, as both the United States and Israel are doing. Conclusions must follow investigation, not precede it. The United Nations has no credibility when it comes to this particular conflict, since it has proved its one-sided anti-Israel bias over and over again. It should stay out of this conflict, lest it encourage more provocations and more loss of life. There will be enough self-criticism from the Israeli public to force the Israeli military to reconsider how it responds to future provocations.