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I moved from dank, dark North Manchester, U.K. to Karmiel, Western Galilee, Israel in March 2010. It is, believe me, one of the sunniest, loveliest towns on earth. With a background in local Jewish journalism I continue to write freelance. I manage several blogs, have  appeared on Technorati and Blogcritics and now contribute to the online magazine, 'Live Encounters'. My main blog is Alwayswriteagain (http://wwwalwayswriteagain.blogspot.com

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Has Israel Won Another 'Six Day War'?

I ask the question by quoting, initially without comment, reports of what happened, first on Monday last 31 May and today, Saturday 05 June:

First, Israel's side of the story as published by the Foreign Office:

"Early this morning (31 May), IDF naval forces intercepted six ships attempting to break the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. During the interception of the ships, the demonstrators on-board attacked the IDF naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs.  Additionally one of the weapons used was grabbed from an IDF soldier. The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose.

This happened after numerous warnings from Israel and the Israel Navy that were issued prior to the action. The Israel Navy requested the ships to redirect toward Ashdod where they would be able to unload their aid material which would then be transferred over land after undergoing security inspections.

As a result of this life-threatening and violent activity, naval forces employed riot dispersal means, including live fire.

According to initial reports, these events resulted in over ten deaths among the demonstrators and numerous injured; in addition, more than four naval personnel were injured, some from gunfire and some from various other weapons. Two of the soldiers are moderately wounded and the remainder sustained light injuries. All of the injured, Israelis and foreigners are currently being evacuated by helicopter to hospitals in Israel.

Reports from IDF forces on the scene are that it seems as if part of the participants on-board the ships were planning to lynch the forces.

The events are ongoing, and information will be updated as soon as possible. Israeli Naval commander, Vice Admiral Eliezer Marom is overseeing the events.

In the coming hours, the ships will be directed to the Ashdod port, while IDF naval forces will perform security checks in order to identify the people on board the ships and their equipment. The IDF Spokesman conveys that this event is currently unfolding and further details will be provided as soon as possible.

This IDF naval operation was carried out under orders from the political leadership to halt the flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip and breaching the naval blockade.

The interception of the flotilla followed numerous warnings given to the organisers of the flotilla before leaving their ports as well as while sailing towards the Gaza Strip. In these warnings, it was made clear to the organisers that they could dock in the Ashdod sea port and unload the equipment they are carrying in order to deliver it to the Gaza Strip in an orderly manner, following the appropriate security checks. Upon expressing their unwillingness to co-operate and arrive at the port, it was decided to board the ships and lead them to Ashdod.

IDF naval personnel encountered severe violence, including use of weaponry prepared in advance in order to attack and to harm them. The forces operated in adherence with operational commands and took all necessary actions in order to avoid violence, but to no avail."


Second,  today's report from the Telegraph.co.uk:


Israel said it has boarded the Gaza-bound aid ship Rachel Corrie without resistance after it refused to change course.


Israeli forces board Gaza aid ship the Rachel Corrie


The military said its forces boarded the 1,200-ton Rachel Corrie cargo ship from the sea, not helicopters.

The takeover stood in marked contrast to a violent confrontation at sea earlier this week when Israeli commandos blocked a Turkish aid vessel trying to break the blockade.

At the time, Israeli commandos abseiled onto the deck from helicopters and a clash with passengers left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said Saturday's takeover took only a few minutes and that the vessel was being taken to Israel's Ashdod port.

Israel said that the Irish-owned aid ship was warned not to approach Gaza.

The Rachel Corrie, which is carrying a small group of activists including a Nobel laureate, was trying to deliver aid as well as breach a three-year-old blockade that has plunged the territory's 1.5 million residents deeper into poverty.

But it has stood by the blockade, which it says is needed to prevent the Islamic militant group Hamas from getting weapons.

"You are approaching an area of hostilities which is under a naval blockade," the military said in a transcript of excerpts of its communication with the ship.

It urged the boat to divert to Israel's nearby Ashdod port, where cargo would be unloaded and transferred to Gaza if it passed a security inspection, but the ship rejected the invitation, the military said.

Activists on board rejected Israeli and US appeals to bring the ship to the Israeli port but insisted they would not resist if Israeli soldiers tried to take over their vessel.

Reports from Israel have stated that one commando killed six of the nine dead activists in Monday's botched boarding.

The soldier, who has not been named, is now being considered for a medal. His commanders reportedly believe that his actions saved the lives of his injured comrades during fighting on the ship's deck. But awarding him a medal would be expected to inflame the row with Turkey.

Now we're beginning to see the truth of what's happened this week. Even under ordinary circumstances, all ships arriving at all  ports worldwide  have their cargo inspected by customs. This is even more vital for a country like Israel where internal security is paramount. This. for example, is what  would have happened on Monday 19 April when the container ship with our goods arrived from the U.K. and which we did not receive in Karmiel - after many other problems - until a full month later. Now will all the Israel-bashers and native-born Jew haters please, please start to behave your-selves!


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