But here's what I find shocking about the Israeli raid of the Gaza-bound activists' flotilla: Israel had plenty of advance warning that the boats were coming, and they still killed 9 people. This wasn't some sneak attack by the activists. It wasn't a fleet of smugglers that the Israeli Navy stumbled upon in the night. It was a big lumbering group of 700 activists carrying 10,000 tons of aid for the blockaded Gaza Strip. Their whole purpose was to run into Israel's Navy to call attention to the blockade and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The boats were world news before they even left Turkey. And one of the most advanced militaries in the world could not stop the ships without killing people.
The Israeli Defense Forces released video of the raid that showed people on the Mavi Marmara attacking with poles and clubs the IDF commandos who were rappelling onto the ship. It's understandable that those soldiers may have feared for their lives and therefore decided to shoot. And there's a lot of debate on the Internet right now about whether blame lies with the commandos or the activists. It's kind of missing the point. Exonerating the commandos does not exonerate Israeli leadership.
At some point, that's the direction this discussion has to turn. More people are going to be asking, Why has Israel sealed off Gaza from the world? What is life like in Gaza under the blockade? Why does Israel seem to play by its own rules on this stuff? That these questions are now in the global media shows that the protest had its intended effect, at least in the short term. But it's still sickening that 9 people were shot dead for it.