The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The Flotilla Murders

As I write this it is still not clear how many people have died as a result of the Israeli commando raid on the Free Gaza flotilla carrying aid supplies for blockaded Palestine. AP is still not going beyond four, Haaretz mentions 10, and al-Jazeera International says 15 or 16. Whatever the final number — which may still rise further as some of the wounded are in critical situation — it's pretty clear Israel decided to implement the naval equivalent of the Dahiya Doctrine on a group of largely unarmed activists carrying aid to a people who have suffered through three years of sanctions that have been endorsed by the international community.

There will be a lot of Hasbara over the coming few days, as there has been in the run-up to to this crisis. An important part in making the flotilla effort mean something will be to render it ineffective and bring back attention to the cold-blooded murders that took place in the international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean in the morning of 31 May 2010.

Hopefully we will see democratic governments, like Turkey, take swift and decisive diplomatic action to counter what amounts to an attack on Turkish citizens. The European Parliament can be mobilized over the attack putting its MPs at risk, although I don't expect much from the supine and cowardly European Commission. There is an opportunity here to bring pressure onto Arab governments, especially Egypt for its collaboration with Israel in enforcing a blockade. Out of this morning's tragedy good things might come to reinforce Israel's isolation and drive home the larger point that it has literally been getting away with murder for far too long. 

From Deir Yassin in 1948 to Khan Yunis in 1956 all the way to Qana in 1996, Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009, there has been effort for accountability against all odds. The flotilla murders are an occasion to bring attention to other even greater crimes, starting by making sure the international investigation by the Goldstone Commission actually goes somewhere.

Update: The Al Jazeera English video I had posted earlier has been "removed by user" so I am replacing with another from Justicentric (a great place to follow developments on this issue via twitter):

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