On June 1, 2010 I posted a version of the following Diary in the blog the Daily Kos in response to the disastrous raid by the Israeli military on the Gaza humanitarian aid convoy. Although the Diary generated the usual pro and anti Israel interpretations, later press reports and analysis proved my conjecture as to the reasons for the failure of Israeli military planning was correct. Only time will tell whether my prediction regarding its negative impact on Israeli exceptionalism was correct.
The interception of the humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza and the resulting loss of life has created one tragic unholy mess. This diary explores an issue overlooked in the excitement of the event and the recriminations of its aftermath.
To the supporters of the Palestinian cause, the muslim community and many in the progressive and humanitarian community this was a vicious overreaction by the Israeli government. Although the flotilla supporters knew that the convoy was a direct provocation to Israeli and to the majority political opinion in Israel as well as to Israel’s sovereignty, they nevertheless proceeded ahead confident in the justice of their cause, knowing knowing full well their actions would elicit a strong reaction from Israel.
The Israelis, viewing this, not as a humanitarian venture at all but as a cynical political ploy to challenge their sovereignty and their fundamental right to defend themselves, acted in the most stupid way imaginable and with an arrogance that could only be viewed as generated from that sector of the Israeli population that still believes their rights flow from their God who ordered them to take the land from existing inhabitants, slaughter all the men and take the women as slaves and concubines.
Threat and counter threat now rule the day, money changes hands on both sides and the press, blogosphere and the world wide public, hang on every twist and turn, human interest tale and minutia thrown out by the unfolding events.
Lost in the demands for assigning fault and calls for retribution is the question of how the international community should agree to deal with humanitarian aid in the face of the political realities of sovereign nations dealing, rightly or wrongly, with conflict or chaos within their borders. Does the United Nations have the mechanisms in place to deliver, under its auspices, humanitarian aid to non-combatants in areas of conflict in ways that do not raise the fears of the parties that it could be used as a subterfuge to strengthening their opponents?
After all, the ability of non-combatants to receive medical supplies, food and the humanitarian aid is a fundamental human right. If there is anything that the United Nations should be doing is identifying fundamental human rights and establishing the mechanisms for assuring their protection,
What happened, in my opinion, is as follows:
The Israeli government persuaded by its hard line advisors, turned to his military to stop the flotilla, Bibi, known more for his strong emotions than his strong intellect, did not pay close enough attention to the military planning and did not adequately direct it in how it should deal with contingencies that could have significant political consequences.
The Israeli military imbued with the arrogance of Entebbe. planned what appears to be a much similar operation. A few crack troops would be airlifted in and secure the target.
In Entebbe, however, enough troops were offloaded from the helicopters to support each other in their actions. The troops landed in an area where the defenders were basically unsuspecting and unprepared. They secured the hostages and left as planned before the defenders could organize and mount a counter attack.
Here they sent in soldiers, essentially one at a time, rappelling down on ropes into a population expecting attack and laying about everywhere in the landing zone on the deck of the ship. Their goal was not to depart before a defense was mounted, but to secure the ship in preparation for boarding by regular military.
There were too few soldiers in the initial invasion and they were dispersed in landing. In the face of any opposition whatsoever the individual troopers would have to fight their way to each other so that they could mutually support each other in any tactic they may have planned. It should have been clear to the Israeli general staff from the beginning,that their plan was not going to work without loss of life.
When the individual soldiers landed they found themselves surrounded by irate defenders who did what one would expect unarmed defenders on a ship to do when faced with a single outnumbered enemy solider, grab whatever weapon is handy and try to throw him overboard.
The soldiers and their command then panicked.
This botched Israeli military action against the Gaza humanitarian relief flotilla is further evidence that the vaunted strategic and tactical brilliance of the Israeli general staff is no more. No more Moshe Dayans, no more Six Day wars.
What we may have now is evidence that the Israeli military may not be much better than any other poorly led force in the area. Like all poorly led armed forces they would become prone to adventurism and error.
What would happen, should the Israeli government seeking to regain its martial luster after being exposed by the most recent action as being somewhat less than omnipotent, embark on another ill-conceived venture and loses? Is the Unites States then obligated to come to rescue it from its folly and if so what then?