June 2: 'Post' readers react to Conflict at Sea

The violence and death could have been avoided; in fact, the activists wanted violence and initiated it to enhance the points they were trying to make.

Oh, the hypocrisy!
Sir, – The anger is entirely misplaced (“Israel faces international outcry after 10 killed in Navy takeover of flotilla headed to Gaza”).
People were hurt and killed because the activists on board responded violently to the Israeli commandos, leaving them no choice but to respond in kind. The activists chose to attack instead of acquiescing peacefully and making their political points without anyone getting injured. The violence and death could have been avoided; the fact is, the activists wanted violence and initiated it to enhance the points they were trying to make.
That was callous and reprehensible – and the world should be angry with them, not with Israel, which was really the victim in this sorry affair. Anger and condemnation should also be directed toward the activists’ enablers and apologists, who are every bit as responsible.
    JERRY PHILIPSON    Comox, British Columbia
Sir, – I am disgusted, but not surprised, by the worldwide vilification of Israel.
First, even the Palestinian Red Crescent accuses Hamas of confiscating past shipments of humanitarian supplies meant for civilians. Second, there were six ships in the flotilla and all were boarded. On five there was no resistance and no injuries; it was only when the soldiers on the sixth ship were attacked that they fought back.
Finally, this was no peaceful bunch of do-gooders. They had weapons – and activist footage taken aboard ship clearly shows them beating Israeli soldiers as they landed on deck.
    GARY TAUSTINE    New York
Sir, – Once again, the old tactic of placing civilians among trained and violent terrorists, getting the IDF to fire back, and then blaming it for killing “innocents,” is being employed. I have no doubt that, as in the past, the criticism will be against those who set up the civilians.
Oh dear – I, too, appear to be naive and well-meaning. Can someone in the world set things straight, please?
    BARBARA BROWN    Beit Shemesh
Sir, – Using today’s criteria, the 1976 Entebbe raid, arguably the finest military venture ever and generally recognized and applauded as such – would have been a “flagrant violation” of international law.
A foreign country, a member of the UN, was invaded without Security Council consent, and some of its citizens were killed.
What would today’s anti-Israel industry have made of that?
    OSCAR DAVIES    Jerusalem
Sir, – How interesting that Arab ambassadors met at the Egyptian Mission to the UN to condemn Israel’s actions (“Accusing Israel of murder, Ankara pushes for censure at UN Security Council”).
I would love to see what Egypt might do if these “humanitarian aid activists” had tried to dock in Alexandria! The outcome would have been a lot worse.
    CHANA PINTO    Ra’anana
Sir, – Two months ago a North Korean ship apparently torpedoed a South Korean corvette with the loss of 46 lives, an act of war. Compare the reaction by national and international bodies to that event with the almost overwhelming and instantaneous condemnation of Israel for preventing an attempt to break its blockade of Gaza waters.
The “Free Gaza” flotilla had nothing to do with humanitarian aid – it could have offloaded its cargo in Ashdod and transported it by land to Gaza. It was all about propaganda.
    FRED EHRMAN    New York
Flawed planning
Sir, – There is no question in my mind that our sea commandos acted completely in accord with international law. Yet before the encounter, an Israeli spokesman said we were preparing for any eventuality. Were we? Afterwards, our spokesmen said we didn’t expect such violence. We should have!
The commandos carried paint guns. Why not stun guns in addition to automatic weapons? Why weren’t the people on deck ordered to go below until the commandos were safely aboard? Ultra-high-frequency sound devices like those used by police and prison authorities to squelch riots, and by some cruise ships to counteract pirates, could have encouraged them to comply.
We are rated as one of the most highly developed technical countries in the world. Our military should be taught and encouraged to use whatever technology can best serve its purposes. And that includes winning the media and propaganda wars, where our skills are in great need of improvement.
    MIKE RAND    Kfar Vradim
Sir, – Would someone please explain to me why it was necessary for IDF commandos to board the ships to begin with? And why in international waters?
    STUART PILICHOWSKI    Mevaseret Zion
Sir, – It is Israel’s right to blockade Gaza. It was also Israel’s right to board those ships and even fire on the people on board.
But it was probably not the brightest decision to drop a handful of troops into the midst of an armed mob. The attack looked poorly planned and amateurishly executed.
    SARAH KAHAN    Teaneck, New Jersey
Sir, – A very adequate facility had been set up at Ashdod Port to deal with the situation. All the boats could have had a military escort there, and the protesters and their cargo could have been sorted out.
Now, Israel’s image has been tarnished again, with worldwide condemnation.
“Look before you leap” should have been the motto.
    SALLY SHAW    Kfar Saba
Sir, – When will Israel’s army and civilian leadership finally understand that at least half the battle is one of hasbara (“Israel’s PR machine fails yet again to act in time”)?  The army should have had live TV feeds from its perspective, showing the trap the soldiers fell into.
I am further disappointed that Prime Minister Netanyahu ended his trip to North America early, canceling his visit with President Obama. That showed weakness and broadcast a sense of guilt.
Our leaders should not apologize – they should go on the attack against a hypocritical world.
    LARRY BIGIO    Zichron Ya’akov
Barak must go
Sir, – The terribly ill-conceived interception of the “humanitarian ships” on their way to Gaza, and the unnecessary killing of many passengers, raises serious doubts about the ability of Defense Minister Ehud Barak to continue in his post (“Questions abound for top brass over planning of sea op”).
Instead of landing a large number of naval commandos equipped with tear gas and stun grenades, which are standard issue for putting down violent demonstrations, the IDF used just a few troops, and, unaware of the intelligence failure in anticipating an organized and violent reception, they opened fire in self defense.
The man ultimately responsible for this debacle, which has earned Israel a scathing reply from the world media, is Barak. The man who engineered Israel’s hasty overnight flight from Lebanon in 2000, who advocated adoption of the Oslo Agreement, who was willing to redivide Jerusalem and return the Golan, who halted the IDF in Cast Lead when it was on the verge of destroying Hamas, and who today is responsible for the fiasco at sea, must go.
Netanyahu: Fire him for the sake of the country!
    ELIEZER WHARTMAN    Jerusalem
Sir, – The commandos’ lives were in danger, yet they carried out their mission and I have little criticism of them. However, clearly, the defense minister should take the rap!
Ehud Barak: Take responsibility and resign!
Kudos to the IDF
Sir, – My sincere congratulations and profound thanks to our brave soldiers who successfully stopped the terrorist-led flotilla from entering Gaza.
It is all very well for some of our self-styled "experts" to talk about a "failure" and offer criticism, but it would be better if they kept their half-baked opinions to themselves.
The lengthy delay by our authorities in revealing the facts – that we walked into a pre-prepared ambush – and showing the pictures of our soldiers being mobbed, clubbed, beaten, stabbed and fired on gave our enemies too much time to spread their false version of events throughout a ready and waiting international media.
The fact that only 15 of our commandos descended on the Mavi Marmara armed with paintball guns to control a crowd of hundreds clearly shows we had no intention, or anticipation, of violence.
Hopefully our action will discourage other such terrorist adventures and show the world that we will maintain our right and ability to defend ourselves and not succumb to outside pressures.
MIKE AYLAshkelon
And about Turkey...
Sir, –  The new hit on today’s street is the delegitimization of Israel, and Turkey is playing a prominent role while openly supporting a terrorist organization, Hamas (“Turkey recalls top envoy”).
Whatever the current dynamic in the Middle East, Turkish activism is obviously having a detrimental effect on the situation and may cause more bloodshed in the region.
Sir, – Are we so naive to believe that there is any sort of friendlyand cordial relationship with the current leadership in Turkey? Why dowe have to try time and again to appease the Turks when they continueto be one of the leading forces trying to discredit Israel’s right todefend itself?
The time has come for an official statement from our government thatTurkey is no longer a friend and is off-limits for travel, commerce andother forms of relations until there is a change in either leadershipor the way its current government relates to Israel.
Bet Shemesh
Sir, – My wife and I flew El Al twice in the past week. On each flightwe were served Turkish mineral water. Isn’t it high time we stoppedsupporting the Turkish economy, even with small items like this?