Israeli naval forces on Friday successfully intercepted a two-ship flotilla attempting to break the maritime blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
An Irish yacht and a larger Canadian ship were both stopped and escorted to the Israeli port of Haifa after having set sail from Turkey earlier in the week.
Israeli naval commandoes met no resistance from the 27 activists aboard the ships, and did not find any weapons.
Learning from the May 2010 interception of a Turkish-led flotilla attempting to reach Gaza, the Israeli forces were armed with cameras and immediately uploaded images and footage of the operation to international media outlets.
In the 2010 raid, the Israelis were lynched as they boarded the flotilla’s largest ship, the Mavi Marmara. After two soldiers were taken hostage, the remaining commandoes opened fire both to defend themselves and quickly rescue the two abducted men. The Israeli army’s delay in broadcasting images and footage of that incident allowed Israel’s detractors to put forward exaggerated and falsified stories of “Israeli brutality” that formed the backdrop of all subsequent reports on the topic.
A UN-backed inquiry later acquitted the Israeli navy of any wrong doing, and reiterated the legitimacy of Israel’s Gaza blockade, but the damage had already been done.
Thanks to the improved PR efforts of the Israeli military, Friday’s maritime interception received far less attention, and again proved that Israeli forces as a policy only use violence as a respones to violence.
Six of the activists brought to Ashdod were immediately released, while the other 21 insisted on remaining incarcerated in order to “keep authorities busy.” The activists admitted their sole purpose had been to provoke Israel.
The fact that the activists were permitted to continue drawing attention to themselves while voluntarily remaining in jail, and were not treated violently despite admitting to a provocative action, again spoke to the enormous difference between Israel and its neighbors when it comes to human rights.