Soldatene som entret Mavi Marmara gjorde ingen feil. Det store spørsmål er: hva med blokaden? Israel innførte den da Hamas kom til makten. Er den gjennomførbar? Spør Amos Harel i Haaretz.

One of the most telling images of the day, along with footage from the ships, was the expression of Navy Commander Major General Marom at the noon press conference. The many weeks the navy spent preparing to meet the flotilla, the advance praise it received for its professional preparations, all culminated in a resounding failure. We should be clear: If Israel’s goal was to «contain» the flotilla and prevent it from triggering a major crisis, we failed utterly and completely, and in no way is this the soldiers’ fault.

Before we address the army’s part in the fiasco, we would need to meticulously investigate the political leadership’s conduct. Israel’s siege on Gaza began soon after Hamas’ 2006 election victory, and intensified after Gilad Shalit was abducted and Hamas ousted Fatah from power a year later. The siege has had limited success at best. Hamas may be fairly isolated, but the weapon smuggling has continued, and the blockade has done nothing to advance Shalit’s cause.

The blockade question

Another question concerns the enforcement of the blockade. The Olmert government had allowed aid ships to assist the Gazans. The current government blocked an aid ship a year ago, effectively and without casualties. The decision on this morning’s operation was made unanimously by the seven-member security cabinet. Israel left itself having to decide, at the latest possible moment, between two unenviable alternatives: taking over the ships, or allowing the flotilla to pass, unimpeded and unexpected, into Gaza. The critical juncture may actually have been earlier: changing the fruitless siege policy, or taking less blatant steps against the flotilla, such as damaging their engines or physically blocking their path, without sending combat soldiers to board them.

As for the operation itself, the commandos did nothing wrong.

Diskusjonen om Hamas, Gaza og blokaden pågår kontinuerlig i Israel. Men på helt andre premisser.

Straight into the trap