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May 31, 2010

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They weren't attacking soldiers: they were defending their ship against an unlawful boarding, no different from piracy. If the people on the ship killed all the IDF, they would have been justified.

This is a post and a position mired deep in pointless technicalities. Of course the activists on the ship had a political intention - they wanted to point out the unfairness of the blockade. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams - or may be not - may be they expected that Israel would be stupid - and more importantly, repressive.

"Don't get played"? Really? It is you who are getting played if you believe that politics and protest are not about negotiating what is right and what is wrong.

If your point is that the people on the ship were not incarnations of Gandhi, I'll take it, Von.

But if you're trying to suggest that there is something unusually combative or aggressive about the people on this ship, you are conceding far too much to the IDF in this case (or, really, the people who sent them).

So, armed commandos land on their ship in the middle of night in international waters and somehow we're supposed to see the IDF as the aggrieved party?

I've always been a fairly sympathetic person about Israel's issues of national security and the incredibly difficult problems they have to navigate. I'm even sympathetic to the fact that there are different perspectives as to the best way to deal with these kinds of problems.

But this...? It's the aggressively boarding ships in international waters; it's trying to use the fact that people attacked invading soldiers as somehow making them "violent" merely because they didn't wait to see what the armed paratroopers were going to do to them.

I am more shocked about this than anything I've ever seen from Israel. There simply is no way to spin this, no defense for the stupidity and criminality of their act. For some, it will confirm everything they've always said about Israel. For the rest of us, there's simply no way to defend them.

Besides, when you say that "there is a lot that we don't know" - what exactly don't we know?

Isn't this exactly like Mr. Obama's reaction? Waiting for the "facts and circumstances" after reading a news report, embellished with some video which sets out enough as basic fact along with comments from the Israeli military, the people on the ship and the commandos themselves?

Let's see - the people on the ship had sticks and knives, the people who boarded them were professionally trained military men. The incident occured in international waters.

Yet, you want us to believe that the professionally trained well-armed soldiers were the ones engaged in "self-defense"!

Does that not burden the English language and our individual and collective sanity more than any of these can be expected to reasonably bear?

So if Israel cannot credibly claim "self-defense" (based on the facts - the convoy was no secret either - it's possibility and existence broadcast before hand by both Turkey and Israel), how should this be seen?

What further "facts" could possibly alter this assessment? It's amazing that the Jewish state is run by people who are so stupid, myopic, immoral, unethical and plainly racist (based on their actions there is credible defense against any of these adjectives).

The "Israel is stupid" trope has become common among liberal sympathisers and admirers of the Jewish state. I count myself as one of these and have many Jewish friends, advisors and colleagues (even though I am not jewish)

But really, isn't "stupid" really a euphemism for something much worse and much more damaging , both to the world and to Israel?

I can't believe your post. This flotilla did not have any weapons. When the paratrooper started to attack they had every right to defend themselves with whatever they could grab a hold of.

Have you forgotten that this was a mercy mission to give aid and relief to the suffering human beings in the prison called Gaza? And to break an illegal and immoral blockade.

It sound like you are an apologist for a brutal, bullying, racist regime.

Israel killed and wounded scores of civilians. I am totally disgusted by your post.

Besides, let's not forget that Turkey is a member of NATO. If we are all talking about settled rules (this is Israel's argument - that the blockade was legal and they were enforcing it), then according to NATO rules, this is an attack on all of NATO.

Is not America now committed by it's treaty obligations to protect the interests of the nation of Turkey?

If a SWAT team were to knock down my door tonight and storm into my apartment, and I were to grab one of them and throw them off the balcony, I would expect to get shot. The SWAT team may have been completely unjustified in breaking down my door, and I may rightly be furious about it, but that does not justify my use of violence. So I ultimately blame the activists. On the other hand, von is certainly right that this was a terribly conceived operation that has very likely to end badly.


I don't have my co-bloggers' aversion to a more hawkish stance by Israel on some of these questions. You can't be a hawk and a total screw up, however, such that your every move backfires. Sometimes I think that Netanyahu would be better defender of Israel if he just stopped trying.

Never forget, the enemy of the extremist is the moderate, not the extremist on the other side. Isolating Israel isn't good for Israel, but it is good for the faint hopes of annexing the Occupied Territories and expelling the Palestinians who live there.
That is, it's easy to write this off as stupidity, but it seems much more likely that it was intentionally aimed at isolating Israel and making it more difficult for Israeli moderates.

As for the idea that the ship's crews were somehow responsible for actively resisting piracy- I don't have any understanding of that thinking, it seems like the ultimate expression of blaming the victim.

Dubble Bubble toil and trouble, the Voñata rears its paper maché donkey head.

If a SWAT team were to knock down my door tonight and storm into my apartment, and I were to grab one of them and throw them off the balcony, I would expect to get shot.

That is not an apt analogy: this was more like a home invasion by gang members than a law enforcement action. There is no legal authority for the action, and it was not a mistake. And while you might expect to be shot if you fight back against a gang home invasion, you would not be at fault for the invasion. You are blaming the victims. If the IDF wants to illegally board foreign flagged vessels on the high seas, it can expect a war.

If a SWAT team were to knock down my door tonight and storm into my apartment, and I were to grab one of them and throw them off the balcony, I would expect to get shot. The SWAT team may have been completely unjustified in breaking down my door, and I may rightly be furious about it, but that does not justify my use of violence. So I ultimately blame the activists. On the other hand, von is certainly right that this was a terribly conceived operation that has very likely to end badly

This is insane. Armed commandos paratrooped onto a foreign ship in international waters. In what sense should one "expect to get shot" in this scenario?

"I ultimately blame the activists." For what? Good God. I'm curious exactly what the IDF would have to do to justify violence for you? Wait until they shoot someone? And, what exactly is someone supposed to rationally determine when people invade your ship outside their jurisdiction in the middle of the night? What exactly should they expect is going to happen? How is this not an act of aggression in the first place?

Now, should they have perhaps not tried to attack the trained men with guns? Almost certainly. But this line from Israel's government is completely inane. Self-defense? If someone broke into your house and you stabbed him, would you be to blame if he shot you? Invading ships at sea is called piracy.

Why did they board the ship at night? Why did they not wait until they reached their own territorial waters? Why did they approach in force rather than in good faith?

I'm not even arguing that these activists weren't up to no good. There's just no justification for this act at all. And their so far embarrassing attempts to manufacture one only make that more clear.

And, look, I'm a complete and total moderate about this issue. I've been bending over backwards for years to defend Israel's point of view and actions—even when I disagreed with those actions—because I think their position is very difficult.

This was a colossal blunder, one only made worse by trying to cast blame onto others.

"The SWAT team may have been completely unjustified in breaking down my door, and I may rightly be furious about it, but that does not justify my use of violence."

I think you have a deeply subservient notion of what governments should be allowed to do. A SWAT team breaks into your home in a completely unjustified way and if you use violence anything that happens after that is your fault? Well, yeah, of course. One should always trust armed men who break into your apartment for no good reason.

What people have said in other places is that the activists should have used fire hoses to force the illegal invaders off their ship. Sounds right to me.

Actually the SWAT team analogy is spot on, but that says more for how crappy our SWAT team game has become than it is good for this action.

Do we have any reason to believe that the video is genuine? I watched it, and and all I saw in the first part was some moving blobs -- those could easily have been faked to show whatever the IDF wanted. The video (if it is a video, and not an IDF fake) has clearly been heavily edited to show us just what the IDF wants us to see. The part where the "activists" are supposedly beating someone (invisible) on the deck looked a lot like a fake to me.

The independent reporting from the ship, before the IDF cut the feeds, indicated that it had been fired on before the commandos landed. The victims of this pirate raid are being held incommunicado by the IDF. What would they tell us if they were allowed to?

Some unconnected remarks

1) the video looks like an old video game, i.e. totally artificial. This impression is even hightened by the thrown objects. That does not necessarily mean that it is faked.
2) Interestingly, according to international law a naval blockade can only be legal when successful. Applied to this case, if the convoy had reached Gaza, it would have undermined the Israeli legal position independent of the legitimacy of the blockade in the first place.
3) I somehow get the impression that Israel('s RW government) wanted to up the ante and that the presence of the Yahoo from Netanja in Washington at the time of the action was not a coincidence. Since Congress will not condemn Israel under any circumstances (maybe Isreal would have to have a daily hostage shooting live TV show for that to happen and I would not be sure even then) it is an opportunity to rub it into Obama's face that he has the short end of the stick (sorry, metaphor overload).
4) From what I read in the morning papers the Isreali government has been undermining its traditionally good relations with Turkey for some time. If that is a deliberate policy (and not just bull in a china shop syndrome), then the attack could have also been meant as a provocation in that direction.
5) [snark] We all know that Belgium invaded Germany in 1914 and Poland attacked that German radio station in 1939, so of course this was a heinous and unprovoked attack on the IDF[/snark]
6) That the attack took place at the time and place was it seems a deliberate decision in order to achieve surprise and to make it difficult for the other side to report (civilian night footage by partially unprepared reporters is unlikely to look very good).

Alex: If a SWAT team were to knock down my door tonight and storm into my apartment, and I were to grab one of them and throw them off the balcony, I would expect to get shot. The SWAT team may have been completely unjustified in breaking down my door, and I may rightly be furious about it, but that does not justify my use of violence.

Interestingly enough, Von wrote about just this situation not long ago. Only then, because the SWAT team were not Israelis attacking a convoy come to the relief of Gaza, he did actually seem to understand that what the SWAT team was doing was evil. Perhaps if the IDF had killed a couple of dogs instead of killing Palestinians, Von would be more sympathetic to the idea that they should be resisted...

"There is no legal authority for the action, and it was not a mistake."

I've seen an awful lot of legal analysis about this on the web in the last couple of days, and the upshot of it seems to be that, yes, it WAS legal. Nasty, maybe, but a lot of nasty things are 'legal' under the parts of international law applying to wars.

OTOH, I must admit the naked assertions are running pretty heavily in the "blatantly illegal" direction.

"As soon as the first commando was assaulted, someone was going to get shot."

This is supposed to be a funny fucking joke, right? A hilarious example of absurdist humor? 'We boarded your boat by force with guns in international waters and you responded by physically throwing the lead man (SEAL equivalent) overboard -- so we killed ten of your guys. I don't wanna hear any complaints.'? Now that's fucking funny haha, man.

"Since Congress will not condemn Israel under any circumstances ...."

Lots of us in the U.S. are getting really tired of this, and it will eventually change. Young people just don't get Israel. It would be a lot easier to explain to them Israel's right to exist (which I reflexively believe in) if the Israeli government didn't act like a bunch of thugs.

Jesurgislac beat me to it. One has to wonder if, had the family in this post shot and killed one of the SWAT team members, von would have instead taken the side of the police.

I've seen an awful lot of legal analysis about this on the web in the last couple of days, and the upshot of it seems to be that, yes, it WAS legal.

Don't bother linking to any! We'd expect nothing less of you!

What jrudkis and others have said.

I can't believe we're actually gonna focus on the behavior of people aboard rickety aid ships being boarded, with hostility, by commandos armed to the teeth.

Lots of us in the U.S. are getting really tired of this, and it will eventually change.

i hope so.

but on the other hand ... Cuba. stupid has great inertia.

stupid has great inertia

Word.

When baced by even small bands of vocal, powerful, and dedicated advocates.

Or backed.

They were activists spoiling for a fight.

Of course they were, Von, although your spin is a little off, in that it gets hung up on the 'moral' question of the incident itself. The activists were trying to be *provocative*, and Bebe and the other morons running Israel were stupid enough to be provoked. I hold them in a similar contempt to Bush and his gang of idiots. To reach that level of contemptibility needs not just moral bankruptcy (dressed up in religious zealotry), but a laughably hubristic stupidity.


FWIW, I'm not sure Israel had the legal right to board that ship in the first place. Regardless, they *shouldn't* have done.

I'd remind Brett that powerful countries don't get to just unilaterally declare open ended wars so as to void any law they don't feel like following. That is lawless. Another comparison to Bush and his fools.

They were activists spoiling for a fight.

and such a thing can not go unpunished!

right?

I knew I'd read something about this before:

"I want to talk about something different. Something a bit larger. Folks talk about the banality of evil. It's one of those cliches that you hear from time time. But I don't think that folks stop very often to think about what that phrase means. Or what it looks like in action. Evil becomes banal when people -- good people -- stop recognizing it, stop appreciating it, and come to accept it as normal. When evil becomes so routine that good people accept it as the way of doing business." - May 5 2010, Obsidian Wings

The banality of evil, Von. While you argue about whether or not it was wrong for the IDF to attack the convoy, or the people on it to resist the IDF.

Issues were conflated. There was and is an Israeli blockade of Gaza and it should come as no surprise that Israel would back up that blockade with necessary force. One can easily disagree with Israel's right to blockade Gaza but that is a separate issue.

The convoy was attempting to breach the blockade and it is reasonable to presume they knew they would be met with an Israeli response. The issue is did Israel initiate deadly violence or did the protesters initiate the battle? There is a suggestion that Israel was shooting at the protesters prior to boarding but no evidence has been offered. The only video of the confrontation is from an IDF helicopter showing the first soldier dropped onto the deck and being swarmed and beaten mercilessly. It also shows a soldier being thrown over the railing of the top deck. If this was the first act of deadly violence it was the act which changed the situation from police action to deadly confrontation and the IDF was sure to react with force rather than just leave their comrades in the protesters hands. It would then be hard to argue their force was unjustified if that scenario is true.

The blockade itself may not be justified to some people but, given the blockade, running it is an act of confrontation. Given the confrontation, it needs to be determined who initiated deadly force before blame can be assigned.

If one assumes the blockade is unjustified and warrants any and all responses, then any action by Israel is seen as unjustified. I, for one, see merit in the blockade, one that allows Israel to search for weapons of significant destruction, but I still see that as an issue separate from determining what happened on the protester's ship.

Even if they had the right to board the ship for whatever reason, the first resort isn't to do so in the dead of night by dropping individual, armed soldiers in from a helicopter. I'm fairly certain that this isn't what the US Coast Guard does in similar situations where peaceful-but-possibly-criminal vessels are boarded when they reach American waters.

The best evidence I've seen put forward by Israel here is that folks on the ship must've intended violence because they were found with weapons that had been fired... that had been stolen from the folks boarding their ship. Brilliant.

If one assumes the blockade is unjustified and warrants any and all responses, then any action by Israel is seen as unjustified. I, for one, see merit in the blockade

Issues are 'conflated' a little more than you allow. The larger point of the blockade is not to intercept weapons - the Israelis certainly knew there were no weapons shipments on this boat - but as part of the effort to squeeze and humiliate and starve the Palestinians in Gaza. Does that have 'merit'? I contend that not only is there no moral defense of this policy, but no political defense, either.

I can't believe we're actually gonna focus on the behavior of people aboard rickety aid ships being boarded

Everything else aside, "rickety" is not an accurate descriptor, here.

Suffice it to say that it's not anything like a warship.

"Issues were conflated. There was and is an Israeli blockade of Gaza and it should come as no surprise that Israel would back up that blockade with necessary force. One can easily disagree with Israel's right to blockade Gaza but that is a separate issue."

"Issues were conflated. There was and is a criminal blockade of my house and it should come as no surprise that criminals would back up that blockade with necessary force. One can easily disagree with the criminal's right to blockade my house but that is a separate issue."

The legal authority to act is relevant to discussing the defensibility of responses to that act, as I hope my above formulation shows. You implicitly assumed that the Israeli blockade is justified, and that ensuing behavior must be judged in that light.

Also, Alex's post is a ways back but there's an element of it that nagged me:

"If a SWAT team were to knock down my door tonight and storm into my apartment, and I were to grab one of them and throw them off the balcony, I would expect to get shot. The SWAT team may have been completely unjustified in breaking down my door, and I may rightly be furious about it, but that does not justify my use of violence. So I ultimately blame the activists. On the other hand, von is certainly right that this was a terribly conceived operation that has very likely to end badly."

In this hypo, did this SWAT team have a no-knock warrant? Why did you forget about warrants? I will assume for a second that the facts your hypo is a closed universe (i.e. the facts presented are the only relevant facts to deal with). In your hypo, the SWAT team has unlawfully entered your property and assaulted you. They did not identify themselves as police, and they did not tell you to "freeze" or "put your hands in the air." Your hypo has law enforcement officers behaving criminally.

Here's a hypo which is identical to yours:

"If rapists were to knock down my door tonight and storm into my apartment, and I were to grab one of them and throw them off the balcony, I would expect to get shot. The rapists may have been completely unjustified in breaking down my door, and I may rightly be furious about it, but that does not justify my use of violence. So I ultimately blame the activists. On the other hand, von is certainly right that this was a terribly conceived operation that has very likely to end badly."

See how the absence of legal authority renders certain acts criminal? If you think my analogy is incorrect, please point out why.

As for Brett:
"There is no legal authority for the action, and it was not a mistake."

I've seen an awful lot of legal analysis about this on the web in the last couple of days, and the upshot of it seems to be that, yes, it WAS legal. Nasty, maybe, but a lot of nasty things are 'legal' under the parts of international law applying to wars.

OTOH, I must admit the naked assertions are running pretty heavily in the "blatantly illegal" direction."

Legal analysis from whom? Care to cite? I'm not a fan of the legal principle "50 Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong," I'd rather know the reasoning.

Julian, my "legal analysis" is that if Turkey and Israel are at war (or "at hostile") then it's probably perfectly legal for Israel to send armed forces to board a Turkish ship.

Of course that would make it also perfectly legal for the people on board the ship to repel boarders by any means available.

But Americans may assume that Israel is covered by the US defense of their armed forces: America believes it's legal for US military to do anything they like to people from any other country in the world, but it's illegal for those people to fight back.

In that sense, the people who fought back against the IDF attack on their ship, were probably "unlawful combatants" or "terrorists", and should do time in the Israeli equivalent of Guantanamo Bay/Bagram Airbase. (Since the US seems to have borrowed its ideas on how to "fight terrorism" direct from Israel, this is an easy call.) But you have to get permission from the US to fight back for it to be legal to defend yourself when attacked.

But I still think that quibbling about this is like arguing about whether the SWAT team had a legal right to shoot the bull terrier AND the corgi, or were only justified in killing the bull terrier. The banality of the evil being done to the Gazans by Israel is such that Von is too accustomed to it, too used to thinking of it as "how we do business", to think of protesting.

Paulk and Donald Johnson:
My point is that no matter how illegal or unjustified the occupation of the boat, the activists were the ones to initiate violence. Boarding a boat, while an act of aggression, is not an act that harms or even kills a person: throwing someone off a balcony is. That is the key difference between the initial actions of the soldiers and the activists, and that is the reason I hold the activists ultimately responsible.

And yes, even in the situation with the family with the dogs, I do not think violence against the SWAT team would have been justified. I strongly object to the notion that if you don't use violence to fight against an aggression you are being subservient. Sue, protest, put up passive resistance, stage rallies, impose boycots, gather international support for sanctions, etc. etc.: absolutely. But by attempting to harm another human being- and yes, even SWAT members and IDF soldiers are human beings, you are crossing a bright line that should not be crossed.

Again, I agree that the operation was idiotic, and the response to the initial violence could have been more controlled.
Certainly, metaphorical heads should roll in the Isreali chain of command for this. But the activists are the ones who escalated this from a confrontation to a battle.

jrudkis has grasped the legalities of the situation for more accurately than BrettB. The boarding was illegal:

To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

Hasbara practitioners out in force on the blogs, including Craig Murray's comment section, have tried numerous ways to justify the assault on the ship as legal. Some of these and the responses to them are excerpted in a comment here.

Reports of beatings by Israeli commandos on some of the other five ships where there was no resistance (though kind of hard to puzzle out).

So just to sum up where we're at on this: if Israel boards your boat without your permission in international waters, you do nothing or you deserve *whatever* you get. Does that about get it?

Nell: "In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory."

That was the crucial point that I hadn't seen clearly reported - the convoy was still outside Israeli territorial waters at the time the IDF attacked it. (Though on re-reading, I see Von was clear about this, if not clear about what this means legally, which is...)

As Turkey's a NATO member, Israel just committed an armed attack on NATO.

Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty: "In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid, will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack."

Israel's a member of the Eurovision Song Contest, but is not a party to the North Atlantic Treaty. The US is legally obliged to come to Turkey's aid in armed conflict: it has no equivalent legal obligation towards Israel.

My point is that no matter how illegal or unjustified the occupation of the boat, the activists were the ones to initiate violence. Boarding a boat, while an act of aggression, is not an act that harms or even kills a person: throwing someone off a balcony is. That is the key difference between the initial actions of the soldiers and the activists, and that is the reason I hold the activists ultimately responsible.

No, the doctrine of self defense is pretty clear on this one. When armed soldiers board your boat without invitation, and against your will, while you are in international waters, you have a reasonable basis to fear for life and limb and can take appropriate measures.

Expelling the heavily armed, trespassing force is one of those reasonable measures.

It's more like this:

If an armed mob stormed into your house and you threw one out the window, you would not be the one to blame, or responsible, for the ensuing slaughter of your housemates by said gun wielding mob. The armed mob would be.

Alex, can you please respond to my post?

Also,

"My point is that no matter how illegal or unjustified the occupation of the boat, the activists were the ones to initiate violence. Boarding a boat, while an act of aggression, is not an act that harms or even kills a person: throwing someone off a balcony is. That is the key difference between the initial actions of the soldiers and the activists, and that is the reason I hold the activists ultimately responsible."

A man with a gun strapped to him rappels from a helicopter through the skylight of your house. Do you lack the right to remove him from your property? You say "no matter how illegal or unjustified," but actually, it does matter. If a man illegally brings a gun into an airport, and security guards tell him to drop his weapon, but he does not, prompting the guards to shoot him, would you say that "no matter how illegal or unjustified" his (the man with the illegal gun) act was, the security personnel "were the ones to initiate violence?"

Alex--

I agree one should reply nonviolently. I am utterly revolted by your claim that the activists have "ultimate responsibility".

As for throwing someone off a balcony, even in your hypothetical I wouldn't put all the blame on that person--you were talking about a SWAT team breaking into someone's house for no good reason. People's emotions tend to run a little high then and it is the SWAT team that initiated the violence. Just because you have government authority doesn't mean you can initiate violence (armed men breaking into someone's home is extremely violent, in my opinion) and then blame the inhabitants if they respond violently. I'm no lawyer, but you should have a damn good reason before you start sending in goon squads into people's homes and if you don't, then you (the person sending in the goon squad) are the one who has the greatest responsibility if things get out of hand. I don't own a gun and favor nonviolence and aside from that, would never be foolish enough to resist the cops under any circumstances I can imagine, but I hope you're never on a jury in a case of police brutality.

But this was not a SWAT team, this was an illegal act of war.

The ship was in international waters.

It carried a nation's flag (Turkey).

If it was in Israeli waters, then the raid would be like a SWAT team. As it is, the raid was an act of war, and the people on the boat responded.

The standard wingnut insanity;

Israel can kill whomever it wants in its own "defense."

Anyone who defends themselves from Israeli aggression is a terrorist.

"But this was not a SWAT team, this was an illegal act of war."

That's true, Eric, but some of us are upset even by the SWAT team analogy. I don't think the police have an open-ended right to smash into homes and then place "ultimate blame" on the inhabitants if some react violently. Which is not to say that one should react violently.

I concur with Eric (obviously). But back to this:

Boarding a boat, while an act of aggression, is not an act that harms or even kills a person: throwing someone off a balcony is. That is the key difference between the initial actions of the soldiers and the activists, and that is the reason I hold the activists ultimately responsible.

The point of contention here is how to view the appearance of soldiers on the deck of their ship. Is it, as Alex contends, merely a matter of a justified and legal police force going about its duties, meeting with an aggressive force that escalates the situation?

The problem with this scenario is multifold. It's not merely that the IDF boarded these ships. It's where they boarded them, how they boarded them, and with what they boarded them.

Was the response of the boarded party unwise? Clearly. Was the response of the boarded party unreasonable or unjustifiable? Hardly. (And if you believe, as many of these people probably do, that the IDF has no qualms about killing with impunity, even more understandable. Their perceptions should have been taken into account when considering the likely consequences of this action.)

Boarding the ship in daylight would have made a huge difference. Boarding the ship over the side rather than dropping onto the deck would have made a huge difference. These aren't small things. This is everything regarding prompting response.

My point about waiting to get shot is related to this. If it is reasonable to fear for my safety, and I am fully within my personal rights, it is not unreasonable to attack those who threaten it. The notion that a riotous mob attacked a poor soldier without provocation is ludicrous. He para-trooped onto their deck, armed.

According to how you're framing this, the only way their attack would be justified is after the soldiers started killing them. There are ways that the boarded party WOULD be responsible for escalation. Nothing in the situation even comes close to meeting those criteria.

One question: are the waters off the Gaza coast sovereign Israeli territory such that there might be some sort of legal figleaf for the raid? Cause, I don't think they are.

PaulK:Boarding the ship in daylight would have made a huge difference. Boarding the ship over the side rather than dropping onto the deck would have made a huge difference.

Agreed. But also: waiting till the convoy was inside Israel's territorial waters, calling on them to stop for inspection, and using force only if they refused to stop, would have made Israel's action legal.

Obama is undoubtedly both unable and unwilling to call the IDF action an illegal attack on a fellow NATO member (besides, his doing so before the Turkish government decides how to respond would be escalating the situation) but:

Exactly how much political capital does the US have left with Turkey, after the crap the US tried to pull over the invasion of Iraq?

Turkish civilian ships have been attacked by another country's military in international waters. If Turkey sends along military vessels to protect the next convoy, they are fully entitled to do so by all international laws.

If the IDF attacks NATO military ships, this is an act of war which loses them their only committed ally - or breaks up NATO. If the IDF lets a civilian convoy through to relieve the Gaza strip, they are admitting that they cannot "win" their war against the Palestinians.

In all honesty, what I would expect to see happen is either: The US leans on Turkey to use military force to prevent another civilian convoy, not to guard one: or - the US leans on Israel to allow the next civilian convoy through. I think the former is more likely to be tried than the latter.

I've seen an awful lot of legal analysis about this on the web in the last couple of days, and the upshot of it seems to be that, yes, it WAS legal. Nasty, maybe, but a lot of nasty things are 'legal' under the parts of international law applying to wars.

Israel is not at war with Turkey. Nor, legally, are they at war with Gaza. And nothing justifies an attack on a neutral ship in international waters.

OTOH, I must admit the naked assertions are running pretty heavily in the "blatantly illegal" direction.

Thanks for trying to correct that balance with some naked assertions in the other direction.

San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994

67. Merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral States may not be attacked unless they:

(a) are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture;


http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/WebART/560-14?OpenDocument

If Turkey sends along military vessels to protect the next convoy, they are fully entitled to do so by all international laws.

Turkish internal politics would come in to play - the civilian government might order this, but would the Turkish military obey?

<"Issues were conflated. There was and is a criminal blockade of my house and it should come as no surprise that criminals would back up that blockade with necessary force. One can easily disagree with the criminal's right to blockade my house but that is a separate issue."

The legal authority to act is relevant to discussing the defensibility of responses to that act, as I hope my above formulation shows. You implicitly assumed that the Israeli blockade is justified, and that ensuing behavior must be judged in that light.>

You assume that the blockade is unjustified and anything undertaken in response is justified.

The only thing you argue for is the protester's being right when they commit suicide by police. Israel would claim, not that it is trying to starve the Gazan population, but that it is ensuring that no weaponry is smuggled into Gaza that can be used against them. Their concerns seem justified given Hama's continued use of terror on civilian populations. Whether you agree with their goals or not their assumptions are reasonable and nowhere have I heard, outside of mere assertion, that their goals are anything other than security.

I understand Israel offered to clear the ships through one of their ports. No doubt that would have been a pain in the ass but violence could have been avoided. Unless of course violence was the aim of the blockade running protesters.

Israel is within it's rights as a state to provide for it's own security

@Chuchundra

I don't believe Israel is a signatory of that treaty.

Also, from the same:

102 The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:

(a) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival;or
(b) the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade.

Relevant, I think.

Robert: I understand Israel offered to clear the ships through one of their ports.

So that the material in the convoy could have been stopped at the land border in the usual way?

Chuchundra: Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, .... are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade,

They weren't (yet) breaching the blockade: they weren't inside the three-mile limit. (Or whatever it is, these days.)

I don't believe Israel is a signatory of that treaty.

And even if they were, I don't believe they consider themselves to be in a State of Armed Conflict.

are believed on reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband or breaching a blockade, and after prior warning they intentionally and clearly refuse to stop, or intentionally and clearly resist visit, search or capture

Agreed with Jes.

They hand't breached, there is no indication of prior warning, and not reasonable grounds to be believed to be carrying contraband.

Also, question as to applicability of treaty and spartikus' points.

The only thing you argue for is the protester's being right when they commit suicide by police.

Suicide by police!!! Orwell is spinning at about 1000 rpms

Whether you agree with their goals or not their assumptions are reasonable and nowhere have I heard, outside of mere assertion, that their goals are anything other than security.

Their goals become less relevant when the tactics enter into cruel inhumanity. The goal of security, even if honestly held, does not justify any and every action.

Israel is within it's rights as a state to provide for it's own security

See above. Further, other nations are within their right to comment and act in response to Israel's actions.

I understand Israel offered to clear the ships through one of their ports.

Do you have a link too?

Ugh: One question: are the waters off the Gaza coast sovereign Israeli territory such that there might be some sort of legal figleaf for the raid? Cause, I don't think they are.

That's my question, too. I know the U.S. claims a 200 mile economic area and 24 mile territorial zone. My understanding is that a ship sailing through the 200 mile area is free from interference if it's passing is an "innocent passage" but that hardly applies here.

There's a lot of talk about the right of a blockading nation to stop vessels in international waters if there is good reason to believe contraband is incoming (San Remo Manual). The contra is that Israel and Hamas are not at war. (really?!).

PaulK:Boarding the ship in daylight would have made a huge difference. Boarding the ship over the side rather than dropping onto the deck would have made a huge difference.

Sure, maybe with more loss of life. If your intent is to take the ship rather than get pelted with whatever those on board want to throw down at you, you could try that.

IMHO, the method was likely aimed to avoid escalation (and it worked so well!!). Night brings an element of surprise. The Israelis simply miscalculated the resistance. Don't bring a paintball gun to a knife and bat fight. Sure, bring the paintball gun/rubber bullets/taser but ALSO bring you main weapon. That was the mistake, IMHO. But who's to say it wouldn't have been an even bigger fiasco in daylight?

Re "SWAT" Analogy

This analogy is stupid and inapplicable. The boat wasn't a home. The boat wasn't minding its own business. (or did you not see what purports to be a "kill the Jews" songfest on board?). They wanted a boarding and wanted to provoke hostilities. There was repeated warnings before the actual boarding. There was clear intent to break the blockade. This was no civil rights march.

A country can defend itself. There is no doubt in my mind the U.S. would deal with any threat much further out that 24 miles. The question is whether there is a threat. There is clear disagreement on that issue.

And that's the problem with this argument. The real issue is the blockade, not how this was handled.

"Israel would claim, not that it is trying to starve the Gazan population, but that it is ensuring that no weaponry is smuggled into Gaza that can be used against them. Their concerns seem justified given Hama's continued use of terror on civilian populations. Whether you agree with their goals or not their assumptions are reasonable and nowhere have I heard, outside of mere assertion, that their goals are anything other than security."

You can no doubt provide the security justification for preventing construction materials from entering Gaza. Oh, wait, I can do that--Hamas could build something and we can't have that, so all Gazans must suffer. But I'm stumped when trying to explain the deadly threat posed by coriander, chocolate, fruit juice, and children's toys.

link

There is no doubt in my mind the U.S. would deal with any threat much further out that 24 miles.

See: US Coast Guard operations in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Not sure if those operations are relevant to this particular scenario, but forced boardings in non-US-territorial waters are not exactly rare.

bc: A country can defend itself.

Turkey is a country, too.

A civilian vessel, in international waters, was attacked by foreign military.

If Israel was at war with Turkey (and via Turkey, with the rest of NATO) this wouldbe legal.

The real issue is the blockade

Well, there we agree. The blockade is evil, and ought to be stopped. Hopefully, Israel has committed an overreaching act of folly in attacking a NATO country.

Doing so in broad daylight would just have ensured nice, clear video footage shot by those on board of IDF military attacking a NATO country...

Re the "collective punishment" argument:

As one who is trying to see both sides of this issue, how does this argument fly when the people elected Hamas?

IMHO, the method was likely aimed to avoid escalation (and it worked so well!!). Night brings an element of surprise. The Israelis simply miscalculated the resistance. Don't bring a paintball gun to a knife and bat fight. Sure, bring the paintball gun/rubber bullets/taser but ALSO bring you main weapon. That was the mistake, IMHO. But who's to say it wouldn't have been an even bigger fiasco in daylight?

Really? None of the IDF had firearms?

This was no civil rights march.

Tell that to the starving residents of Gaza.

...or did you not see what purports to be a "kill the Jews" songfest on board...

No, do you have a link?

As one who is trying to see both sides of this issue, how does this argument fly when the people elected Hamas?

That's the actual argument! All of the people of Gaza are being punished because the majority - though certainly not all - elected Hamas.

Bin Laden uses the same argument as Israel: US civilians are fair game because they elected Bush et al.

bc: Re the "collective punishment" argument:

As one who is trying to see both sides of this issue, how does this argument fly when the people elected Hamas?

What Eric said.

Also, declaring publicly that you're only going to respect democratic elections when the people elect representation you approve of, is taken as yet another clear proof that the US opposes democracy.

The US's failure to support Hamas as the duly elected government of Gaza was (if you remember back to 2007) as clear an indication as could be that American claims that the US wanted to bring democracy to the Middle East were nothing but pure BS.

I don't believe they consider themselves to be in a State of Armed Conflict.

In September 2007, Israel declared Gaza a "hostile entity" and according to the Israeli government's own "legal backgrounder" it considers itself in a state of armed conflict with the Hamas regime that controls Gaza.

The rest of that backgrounder seems to suggest that, even if not a signatory of the relevant treaty, Israel is at least attempting to tick off the boxes on the legal checklist.

Under the treaty, the actual geographic area under blockade must be declared and from the Israeli government's own information they intercepted the ships outside of that zone on the basis of that flotilla intended to enter the blockade zone. This seems to undermine their own position.

Eric, on the kill the Jews "songfest", he means what I've linked below. Not speaking the language or knowing the cultural background, I don't know if it means what they claim. If it does, the Gaza protest organizers need to do better screening regarding who they allow into their flotillas or what sorts of attitudes they want in their movement. But I don't know if it means what they say it means. Apparently they are identifying Israel with Muhammad's Jewish foes and singing some battle song about that.

Though I'm also tired of the notion that racist hatred is to be found on the Arab side, whereas on the Israeli side there is just the desire for peace

link

"Bin Laden uses the same argument as Israel: US civilians are fair game because they elected Bush et al."

And before him Clinton and after him Obama, Bin Laden isn't particular with those distinctions.

But, to the point, I am continually confused with the circular logic of what Hamas represents. The Gaza strip isn't a country, so it isn't a war (and they aren't a government). So anything you do to them is illegal, although they clearly try to have the weapons to attack Israel?, (the rest of Israel? the Israel part of Palestine?}.

You can't shoot back or its a war crime, you can't blockade them or it's a crime against humanity.

So you simply have to free them to destroy your country? Would any country in the world actually do that?

In the US would we consider them the same as say a right wing militia group who has elected leaders? If they started lobbing rockets out of their compound what would we do?

My point, long in coming, is: pick what they are, if they are a country we should treat them that way, if they are an ongoing criminal enterprise, that way. But they can't be protected from accountability for theirpart in this conflict because they aren't any of those things.

singing songs is reasonable cause for boarding and murder ?

Marty,

Your comment is such a silly pile of straw it's hard to know whether to engage it or not.

You can't shoot back or its a war crime, you can't blockade them or it's a crime against humanity.

Of course you can shoot back, but you can't commit war crimes when you're shooting back!

Of course you can conduct a blockade, but if you won't let sufficient amounts of medicine, food and cooking oil through for a population of over one million, then you are committing a crime against humanity.

Come on man, embrace some of that nuance you appreciated in the UN statement.

The Gaza strip isn't a country, so it isn't a war (and they aren't a government). So anything you do to them is illegal, although they clearly try to have the weapons to attack Israel?, (the rest of Israel? the Israel part of Palestine?}.

Sigh. That status is a bit of a gray zone, but the consequences aren't what you say.

Tell that to the starving residents of Gaza.

[/snark] "Hey, Gazans, this was no civil rights march." As for the starving issue, I'm assuming you don't mean these guys. . [/snark]

he means what I've linked below

Yes. And I said "purports" because I don't speak the language either.

Though I'm also tired of the notion that racist hatred is to be found on the Arab side

didn't say that.

the Gaza protest organizers need to do better screening. . .

Are you serious? The organizer was the IHH . I think Eric was referring to the link in his "seven degrees of Kevin Bacon/Al Queda" argument. Looks a bit closer than that.

Bin Laden uses the same argument as Israel: US civilians are fair game because they elected Bush et al.

We certainly are fair game for an economic blockade. That's how nations deal with one another when they disagree.

Really? None of the IDF had firearms? Sidearms, yes. But I said "main weapon" (Uzi, Tavor?) Don't know what the Israeli commandos use as an assault rifle.

And what's up with this "raid" nonsense. "Boarding," sure. "Armed boarding paintball party" sure. But "raid?"

Also, declaring publicly that you're only going to respect democratic elections when the people elect representation you approve of, is taken as yet another clear proof that the US opposes democracy.

What, so we have to automatically accept everything a democratically elected country does simply because they are democratic? And if we don't we don't support democracy? How does that make any sense?

re: the IDF footage. I have the same problem with it that I had with the wikileaks footage from Iraq. The clear labeling and highlighting of the footage makes it nigh impossible to judge the footage for oneself.

What we have here is, at best, a fragmentary record intended to justify one side. It lacks audio and time tags, and presents its labeling as the authentic version of events. Stripped of the labels the footage is far more ambiguous and the cuts prevent us from forming any sense of continuity or context.

For instance: at what point in the footage had the IDF started shooting? No idea from what we have here.

Marty; The Gaza strip isn't a country, so it isn't a war (and they aren't a government).

Even a concentration camp could - if its masters permitted - have democratically-elected representatives.

Democracy is one of those ideas that's fragile, yet hard to destroy.

The Gaza Strip is not a sovereign nation because Israel, backed by the US, will not permit it to have sovereignity over air, sea, or land borders. But it is allowed by prior agreement and by international human rights law to hold democratic elections.

FWIW, London isn'ta sovereign nation either, yet London runs democratic elections. And if a Conservative government were to blockade London in an attempt to starve the bolshy Londoners into submission, this would be illegal. And it would be legal for a friendly nation to send convoys to relieve Londoners starvation. And it would be illegal for the UK military to attack the civilian vessels of that convoy in international waters.

So you simply have to free them to destroy your country? Would any country in the world actually do that?

No other country in the world is attempting to enforce a racial/religion apartheid by running the world's biggest concentration camp on one side and enforcing an illegal occupation of conquered territories on the other.

Sidearms, yes. But I said "main weapon"

Footage shows them with assault rifles, IDF spin notwithstanding.

http://www.newshoggers.com/blog/2010/05/pepper-guns-or-assault-carbines.html

As for the starving issue, I'm assuming you don't mean these guys.

According to the UN:

"[Israeli government agencies] allegedly calculate not only the minimum necessary amount of energy that Gazans need, but also the minimum nutritional level they must have to survive. According to a detailed newspaper report that appeared last year, officers of the IDF’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) meet once a week to determine which and how much food will be allowed into the Gaza Strip during the coming seven days."

They then let the UN and other agencies bring in that amount only. The region is so devastated that 80% of the population is dependent on UN aid to eat.

More:

"Even when it comes to food, OCHA maintained in a study published in August 2009 that Gazans are suffering from what it calls “food insecurity.” According to the organization, 1.1 million of Gaza’s 1.5 million population is food insecure, up from just over half in 2008.

“The main causes of food insecurity are the increase in poverty, the destruction of agricultural assets, and the inflation in prices of key food items,” it wrote.

“There has been a gradual shift in the diet of Gazans from the high-cost and protein-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables and animal products, to low-cost and high-carbohydrate foods such as cereals, sugar and oil, which can lead to micro-nutrient deficiencies, particularly among children and pregnant women.”

But OCHA and other human rights organizations warn that even if there is no starvation in Gaza, other aspects of life are in grave crisis. For example, there is a severe housing shortage in Gaza.

Operation Cast Lead severely damaged the industrial sector in Gaza, which had already been badly hit by the blockade imposed by Israel in June 2007. According to a study published by the Palestinian Trade Center and the Palestinian Federation of Industries, 44% of a sample of 324 industries in Gaza were totally damaged during the fighting. Those that resumed production afterwards, rehired only 23% of their original work force.

Overall, more than 40% of Gaza’s workforce, amounting to 140,000 people, is unemployed"

This is from Jpost.

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=171509

"Armed boarding paintball party" sure.

Where a dozen people were shot to death...bwawawawawawhhaahaah... great party man!@#$WEQW!!!

but if you won't let sufficient amounts of medicine, food and cooking oil

Is any of this untrue? Or how about this ?

Or how about OCHA ? The latest field update (admittedly over a year old) says the majority of basic foodstuffs are available. Any evidence that isn't still the case?

bc: See my comment upthread regarding that same JPost link.

When residents are changing diets, food insecure and suffering malnutrition, then there is not sufficient food getting through. Not to mention a massive housing crisis.

http://www.newshoggers.com/blog/2010/05/pepper-guns-or-assault-carbines.html

To me, the silhouette shown looks nothing at all like either the pictured paintball gun or the Galil 5.56.

"Come on man, embrace some of that nuance you appreciated in the UN statement."

Eric,

I appreciate the nuance, it is not as inconsequential as your response makes it. We have discussed that it isn't a war, they aren't a country, they aren't part of Israel,etc., in this thread, all in the context of international law. Putting rational around that to understand what they ARE seems logical to me.

Marty,

That's a fair discussion, but to conflate all the disparate arguments about status and what's allowed with status to come up with the "can't win" comments is the opposite of nuanced engagement of the actual issues.

Under some interpretations of Gaza's status, certain responses are proper. Under others, other responses.

Under each interpretation, Israel has recourse.

BC,

From the OCHA link you provided re: oil:

No petrol or diesel for public use was allowed entry from Israel to Gaza during the reporting period. Petrol and diesel were last allowed entry for public use on 2 November 2008. Some 1,173 tons of cooking gas entered during the week compared to 1,017.5 tons the previous week. This amount represents 67% of the estimated weekly needs set by the Palestinian Gas Stations Owners Association (GSOA). Due to the continued shortage, cooking gas is being rationed among the 21 cooking gas stations in Gaza, each station receiving only a restricted amount of gas which limits their opening to three times per week.

A total of 2,159,620 litres of industrial gas for the Gaza Power Plant was allowed in; similar to the amount being allowed in during the last seven weeks. This amount represents only 69% of the required weekly needs set by the Power Plant authority.

Footage shows them with assault rifles, IDF spin notwithstanding.

Really? I must be missing something. They all look like paintball/pepperball guns to me. Look at how the guy is holding the gun in the third photo. Looks just like the US soldier with the paintball gun. And the first one is labled pepperball, right? The second one I can't tell what it is but it kind of looks like the funky cover on the US paintball gun.

Where a dozen people were shot to death . . . Sorry. Forgot to turn on my sarcasm tags.

Also from the OCHA link you provided:

The number of people without any access to water currently stands at 35,000 (down from 40,000 last week) with an additional 100,000 receiving water every 2-3 days, according to the Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU).

any chance different soldiers would have different guns ?

Eric:

You are reading the same things I am reading about the situation in Gaza re food and water and supplies. I tend to think things are a far bit better than whatever the UN reports (or for that matter the BBC). But even at face value it doesn't look like the Gazans are "starving." Not in a war crime sort of way, anyway. More than unpleasant for many, yes. But I'll bank that the Hamas leaders are doing fine!

I'm sure Hamas leaders are doing fine. That is entirely beside the point, however.

At face value:

Even when it comes to food, OCHA maintained in a study published in August 2009 that Gazans are suffering from what it calls “food insecurity.” According to the organization, 1.1 million of Gaza’s 1.5 million population is food insecure, up from just over half in 2008.

“The main causes of food insecurity are the increase in poverty, the destruction of agricultural assets, and the inflation in prices of key food items,” it wrote.

“There has been a gradual shift in the diet of Gazans from the high-cost and protein-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables and animal products, to low-cost and high-carbohydrate foods such as cereals, sugar and oil, which can lead to micro-nutrient deficiencies, particularly among children and pregnant women.”

So, a little malnutrition in children and pregnant women never killed anybody. Or, not that many people anyway, harharhar.

The conversation seems to have moved on, but just to address some of the comments on my SWAT team analogy: the reason it is OK to fight back against a rapist or mob invading one's home is the other party is intent on committing violence itself. So I think PaulK is right that the real question is, did the activists have reason to think they were in danger? I don't think so: the activists certainly knew who was coming on board- warnings had been given to the boat, so this can't have been an entirely unexpected appearance. Neither the soldiers nor the helicopter were firing weapons as they boarded, and while the IDF has far from a perfect human rights record, they don't usually round up people and execute them, particularly not in international waters. Was it possible the IDF could have started firing- yes, anything is possible. But by running the blockade, the activists had knowingly placed themselves in a situation where they might be confronted by armed soldiers, so they have some responsibility to bear some of the risk inherent in that activity. In such a situation, where you have knowingly put yourself at risk, it is not justifiable to try and kill someone because you think they just might kill you. You better be pretty darn sure.

The fact is, the activists attacked and almost killed the first soldier to land on the deck. By being the first to use violence against another person, they escalated the situation from what was in essence a dispute about property and the right of the activists to travel to certain areas to a battle in which people were killed.

Were the IDF irresponsible: yes, they created a situation which had a high potential to end violently. Should they have boarded during the daytime, and not by helocopter- probably. But the ultimate responsibility for the violence lies with the people who committed the first violent act, and in this case it is clear from the video that the activists struck first.

So I think PaulK is right that the real question is, did the activists have reason to think they were in danger? I don't think so: the activists certainly knew who was coming on board- warnings had been given to the boat, so this can't have been an entirely unexpected appearance.

Oh, I dunno. Maybe they saw footage from the Gaza incursion.

Neither the soldiers nor the helicopter were firing weapons as they boarded

This is disputed (not for the helo, but for the soldiers).

Was it possible the IDF could have started firing- yes, anything is possible. But by running the blockade, the activists had knowingly placed themselves in a situation where they might be confronted by armed soldiers, so they have some responsibility to bear some of the risk inherent in that activity.

But that's just it!

They hadn't "run the blockade." They were in international waters, which pretty much shifts the calculus considerably.

They were quite reasonable to fear imprisonment or loss of life when a group of armed soldiers are unlawfully boarding their vessel in international waters.

They hadn't "run the blockade." They were in international waters, which pretty much shifts the calculus considerably.

Eric: But they unabashedly said they WERE going to run the blockade. What is your authority for the illegality of intercepting a vessel in international waters with a overt intent to run a blockade and on a course to do such and having ignored warnings to turn aside? Assume the blockade is legal.And assume that there is good reason to suspect contraband on board.

So, a little malnutrition in children and pregnant women never killed anybody.

Heck, we have that here in the U.S. But it doesn't say that.

bc -- They all look like paintball/pepperball guns to me. Look at how the guy is holding the gun in the third photo. Looks just like the US soldier with the paintball gun. And the first one is labled pepperball, right? The second one I can't tell what it is but it kind of looks like the funky cover on the US paintball gun.

My best guess on #3 would be that he's holding a TEI M89-SR and is on helicopter overwatch rather than being on the ship itself.

Can't tell from the second photo what that is, but it looks like whatever it is, it has a flash suppressor (i.e. not a paintball gun). Could be some variant of the AR 15 or TAR-21 or MP-5. It's being carried like a close-quarters weapon.

" But the ultimate responsibility for the violence lies with the people who committed the first violent act, and in this case it is clear from the video that the activists struck first."

Really? It's clear that the video shows the entire incident from start to finish and leaves no relevant piece of info out? And what the captions say are the truth. Wow.

And back to that ultimate responsibility business, I see.

Heck, we have that here in the U.S.

And if it was caused by another country's blockade, do you think we'd be alright with that?

Eric: But they unabashedly said they WERE going to run the blockade. What is your authority for the illegality of intercepting a vessel in international waters with a overt intent to run a blockade and on a course to do such and having ignored warnings to turn aside? Assume the blockade is legal.And assume that there is good reason to suspect contraband on board.

Why should I assume the latter two? Anyway, I'm basing my read on general rules of war/maritime law - as gleaned from conversations with defense analysts and people that claim to know. What are you basing your read on?

Beinart has a pretty good post up about both the raid and the blockade on Gaza.

link

Beinart has a pretty good post up about both the raid and the blockade on Gaza.

We wuz just following orders isn't much of a defense.

Letting soldiers escape the blame for their immoral acts just allows more of them to happen.

What are you basing your read on?

Faint memories from Jessup Moot Court competition in law school, lol! I don't claim to have any knowledge. You know as I do that "international law" can be nebulous, to say the least.

But Israel says this among other things (citing the US Commander's Handbook):


"The US Commander's Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations sets forth that a vessel is considered to be in attempt to breach a blockade from the time the vessel leaves its port with the intention of evading the blockade."

Sound reasonable. But what do I know. I wasn't asking you with the "what do YOU know" tone of voice, but genuinely wanting to know what the argument is about the boarding being illegal.

I really see the issue as political rather than legal.

bc: As far as I understand it, the blockade is not pursuant to a formal and recognized declaration of war, thus actions taken on neutral vessels in international waters are considered independent acts of war.

Would also submit that the "US Commander's Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations" might not be the binding authority here.

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Whatnot


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