As the international reaction to Monday's debacle on board the Mavi Marmara continues, Egypt has opened the Rafa crossing to humanitarian relief goods for an "unlimited time." Naturally there has been a storm of coverage in Israel of the Israeli naval commandos' version of riot control. "A failure any way you slice it," said Haaretz columnist Reuven Pedatzur of the operation, ticking through a litany of poor intelligence, poor planning and poor choices by Israeli military. Gaza is being described as Israel's Vietnam and in an editorial today, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz is already calling for heads to roll in the Netanyahu government:
It seemed no one could resist the temptation to show the Israel Defense Forces' strength in a place the IDF should not have been in the first place. Because the question was not who would win the confrontation, but who would win more public opinion points. In this test, Benjamin Netanyahu's government failed completely. Israel let its policy of maintaining the siege on Gaza become an existential matter. This policy boomeranged and cost Israel its international legitimacy.
The decision makers' negligence is threatening the security of Israelis, and Israel's global status. Someone must be held responsible for this disgraceful failure. There is no way to convince Israel's citizens and its friends around the world that Israel regrets the confrontation and its results, and is learning from its errors, other than setting up a state inquiry committee to investigate the decision-making process, and to decide who should pay for this dangerous policy.
The Jerusalam Post deplored, not the raid so much, but the public relations management of it, though one poster at the site pointed out that Israel did not have an image problem after killing 10 civilians on the Mavi Marmara but "a reality problem." The Post also reports that the Israeli navy may not be drawing the most helpful lessons from the weekend's bloodletting and resulting international uproar. "Next time we'll use more force," they told the Post.
Also in the Post American Prof. Alan Dershowitz, deploring a "rush to judgment" by the international media, quickly decided himself that the "deaths and injuries on board the Gaza flotilla once again demonstrate how easy it is for radical supporters of terrorism to provoke a democracy into committing acts that will incur the condemnation of the international community." Dersowitz also predecides that the UN should simply stay out of this apparent violation of international law since: "There will be enough self-criticism from the Israeli public to force the Israeli military to reconsider how it responds to future provocations." It is unclear where his confidence in such an outcome originates given other recent events that have similarly drawn international outrage but strident apologies from within Israel.
Operation Mini Cast Lead" columnist Godron Levy called the raid before launching into the following analysis:
Like its larger, losing predecessor, this operation had it all: the usual false claim that is was they who had started it - and not the landing of commandos from helicopters on a ship in open sea, away from Israeli territorial waters. There was the claim that the first act of violence came not from the soldiers, but the rioting activists on Mavi Marmara; that the blockade on Gaza is legal and that the flotilla to its shores is against the law - God knows which law. . . . Again Israel will pay a heavy diplomatic price, once which had not been considered ahead of time. Again, the Israeli propaganda machine has managed to convince only brainwashed Israelis, and once more no one asked the question: What was it for? Why were our soldiers thrown into this trap of pipes and ball bearings? What did we get out of it?
If Cast Lead was a turning point in the attitude of the world toward us, this operation is the second horror film of the apparently ongoing series. Israel proved yesterday that it learned nothing from the first movie.
Yesterday's fiasco could and should have been prevented. This flotilla should have been allowed to pass and the blockade should be brought to an end.
This should have happened a long time ago. In four years Hamas has not weakened and Gilad Shalit was not released. There was not even a sign of a gain.
And what have we instead? A country that is quickly becoming completely isolated. This is a place that turns away intellectuals, shoots peace activists, cuts off Gaza and now finds itself in an international blockade. Once more yesterday it seemed, and not for the first time, that Israel is increasingly breaking away from the mother ship, and losing touch with the world - which does not accept its actions and does not understand its motives.