*** General Disclaimer ***
*** The following comments are personal observations, do not reflect the sentiments of my government, nor that of the organisation I work for. ***
It will be difficult to say the least, to ever find out what really happened onboard, but this is not an exercise in finding out who attacked first nor who is in the right.
While that the incident occured some 40miles out at sea (and thus in international waters) does make the legality of the action somewhat questionable, the same could be asked of what was the motive of these activists.
It is well known that there is a bockade in the Gaza since 2007. Additionally, the vessel in question was met earlier by the Israeli Navy and invited to enter the Ashdod port, north of Gaza, with a reported offer by Israel to transfer the humanitarian aid to Gaza under the observation of the activists, according to Israeli authority regulations. While the existing amount of aid going into Gaza is likely limited, it has to be noted that the amount transfered has actually increased from previous years.
Certainly, while the reported 10,000 tons of aid carried onboard would likely be of help to the residents of Gaza, one has to wonder why 750 activists are onboard as well? By conventional estimates, simply running a passenger ship would not require such amounts of people (and by all reports, the vessel in question was so overloaded that people were sleeping on the decks). Add into the fact that every extra person onboard means less capacity for more aid to be brought into Gaza due to the space he occupies and food he eats, one then has to question what is the intent of such a move. Is it to “break the seige“, as claimed by the organisers?
If so, to what ends? An olive branch of sorts was offered - the flotilla was in fact invited to offload the supplies, under the supervision of the activists, no less, but was rejected and the vessels pressed on to their confrontation. Certainly the actions have moved public opnion away from Shalit and why the blockade was enforced in the first place. If that were their objective, then certainly they have “broken the seige” on public opnion - at a cost of several dead and injured, and managed to force the hand of the Israeli government.
For the time being, MA Mavi Marmara will likely be detained and the more cooperative activists released - probably to be hailed as “heroes”.