Monday, May 31, 2010

Savagery at Sea

Information continues to stream in about the barbarity encountered by Israeli naval commandos as they embarked to commandeer ships violating a maritime quarantine of Gaza. Peaceful activists? White flags? Watch these savages mercilessly beat unsuspecting Israeli forces, whose explicit orders were to avoid harm and injury, and to steer the ships to Israel, where their cargo could be unloaded for the benefit of Gazans.

As more and more details emerge, those of us who care about Israel should aim our anger not at the violent extremists, but at an Israeli naval command that, despite assurances they were prepared for various contingencies, did not anticipate facing hostile resistance on the ships, and thus did not prepare accordingly. Instead of careening to prepared clubs and knives, Israeli soldiers should have first pacified the decks using standard crowd control measure - smoke and flash bang grenades.

attempts to throw cigarettes, spitting, cursing, etc.

The naivete of the Israeli navy's command in preparing and executing this operation, believing that radical extremists would be content to submit to the authorities without a struggle, is astounding. Again and again, in Palestinian villages, in Lebanon, in Gaza and now on the high seas, Israeli soldiers enter combat situations completely unaware of the danger to which they are being exposed, and unprepared for the first acts of violence directed against them, trusting fellow human beings to act in a reasonable way. This complacency must end.

Update: I've seen scattered reports that Israeli soldiers embarking on the boats were armed with paintball guns! Did someone forget the water balloons and cotton candy? It's confirmed, the first waves of Israeli personnel were armed with paintball guns and sidearms, which they were forbidden from drawing without a direct order. This was sheer incompetence: guys going in with NO IDEA what they were in for, thinking that at worst they would be pushed or spat at, falling into the arms of a mob armed with clubs and knives beating the crap out of them, people trying to take away their sidearms, throwing them overboard from one deck to another.

This was an operational disaster, but it happened first and foremost because Israel behaved naively, believing they were dealing with humanitarian activists, and completely failed to plan for a hostile engagement. That lack of planning endangered lives, it cost lives and injuries, and Israeli commanders must be held accountable.


  1. yeah much better to in-fight than to out-fight
    I know you mean well Victor but I totally disagree
    they were naive - so what - afterwards everybody knows better but to say so publicly and go in for a bashing of the IDF leadership is not conducive in my book - the IDF will sort itself out - it has done so in the past - no use in shouting at them from abroad

  2. I surely hope the IDF can improve and plan for such operations without me in the future :P You know that I was advocating a forceful response to the flotilla on Yaacov's blog, Silke. I think it's absolutely vital to explain the situation in a proper context, even while it is being spun as "the Israelis planned to come on board and shoot everyone, and then they did".

    I think naivete best explains the actions of the soldiers, and the tragic consequences. I think the very very few people who read this blog should take that lesson to heart, should understand what we're dealing with here.

    The commandos that landed on that ship weren't prepared for combat. They were ready to secure the bridge while being respectful of civilians and ensuring general safety. They didn't think they were in a war zone. They couldn't imagine that fellow human beings would stash steel pipes out of view until the first soldier landed and then use them mercilessly against another human being. This is thuggery!

    Normal people don't do that, but these aren't normal people! We need to shed this naivete about who we are dealing with, what drives them and what they're capable of.

  3. Victor
    after having slept one night over all the news I imbibed yesterday I am firmly convinced that the soldiers were prepared to meet what is known to us Europeans as football hooligans (they are vicious amateurs who beat at least one policeman close to a veg-life) but still they are weekend blood sporters and the IDF probably rightfully, felt up to that kind. What they met instead was a well trained paramilitary commando (as they hint at their web-site and which I conclude on my own from the videos) which, if you think it through, means that Erdogan is tolerating the training and establishment of a parallel military in his country.

    The IDF couldn't expect that, nobody expected it. Even a long long and well-written piece about the prosecution of "unpatriotic" soldiers offered no hint whatsoever that something like that may exist.

    As has happened innumerable times before we and thereby I mean all of us let ourselves be fooled by clowns throwing smoke screens before professionals.

    If you read statements of pre-1933 German elites the similarities on how easily one is fooled by people who don't mind acting ridiculous are spooky.

    And as a general rule hindsight is always bad unless you frame it in terms of next time around we should be doing this or that. Even if you put your blame firmly on the generals, if I were a wounded soldier fighting for my health in a hospital right now I wouldn't like to read that I had been wounded on an ill-planned operation. You can say all you want to say by musing at the future and let the military take care of its generals in its own ways, bashing them, as I have learned in a roundabout way from Churchill, is good for nothing


1) Save us the melodrama.
2) Use HTML for links. Learn how.
3) I *heart* trolls... for lunch.

On My Bookshelf