RAMALLAH, June 12 (JMCC) – Palestinian analysts, asked their perspective of Israel’s raid on a fleet of ships headed for the blockaded Gaza Strip, see cracks in Israel’s usually-tough armor.
Whether from a military perspective or a legal one, Israeli actions smack of desperation, they say – and open it up to international censure.
“Israel today is not the old Israel,” says retired Major General Wassef Erekat in a conversation with JMCC. “The disorder, confusion and anxiety are features of the status quo, and what are pushing it to one bitter defeat after another.”
Erekat is a graduate of Jordan’s military academy and led the Palestinian-Lebanese joint artillery in South Lebanon until 1982.
He says, “After all the losses Israel has suffered in its recent wars, it is still repeating the same mistake. Through self-glorification and its aggressive nature, it pressed what it calls its ‘invincible’ army to teach the activists a lesson that would end the chances of any other ship breaking the Gaza blockade.”
On May 31, Israeli commandos raided six ships in international waters off the Gaza coast, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged vessel.
The convoy was the latest in a series of attempts to bring aid to the Gaza Strip, thereby breaking a tight Israeli blockade in place since 2007. Israel says it must prevent many goods and foodstuffs from entering Gaza to prevent their use in making weapons.
“The limited vision of its leaders, however,” says Erekat, “couldn’t foresee the international positions that would put Israel in a corner.”
Israel’s raid has been widely condemned and its blockade on Gaza called “unsustainable” by US president Barack Obama.
Moreover, the raiding of the ships in international waters has made Israel more vulnerable to prosecution in international courts.
International legal expert Hanna Issa says that any country with nationals aboard the flotilla might take to court anyone who planned or took part in the boarding of the ships.
As in the Nuremburg trials, the United Nations Security Council could set a date and time for trying those responsible for the raid, says Issa.
More likely, however, are other forms of prosecution.
“If an international investigation committee is formed and shows that Israel committed crimes against the flotilla, then we can go to the International Criminal Court based on the Fourth Geneva Convention,” says Issa. “Articles 146 and 146 gives Israeli political leaders responsibility for what happened.”
Israel could also be sued in the European court or in those countries that have a history of trying war criminals, such as Britain, France, Belgium, Spain and Switzerland, says Issa.
“Israel is living in fear,” says Erekat. “Its soldiers have lost their sense of security and their military performance has deteriorated. The likely outcome [of the raid] is the end of the siege on Gaza, the exact opposite of what Israel wants.”