As many of you are already aware, the IDF boarded a flotilla of ships headed towards Gaza last night. The flotilla was sponsored by a Turkish NGO, IHH. Israel considers the IHH a terrorist organization that masquerades as a humanitarian relief group while it funds Hamas and others of their ilk worldwide. Read the full story in JTA here.
When IDF naval officers attempted to warn the ships off, citing Israeli blockade laws and offering to escort the ostensibly humanitarian-minded flotilla to the port of Ashdod, one of the ships, the Mavi Mamara, refused and had to be boarded. The resulting mayhem injured a number of Israeli soldiers and cost the lives of at least 10 of the ship's passengers and/or crew. Details are still sketchy.
Israel-bashers worldwide have already piled on, condemning Israel for this event, throwing out hyperbolic statements about Israel's "continued ethnic cleansing" operations and prompting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to call the IDF manouever a "massacre".
Any loss of life is deplorable, however, before the world rushes to judgment - something it's wont to do when it comes to Israel - it's probably best to get all the facts. Once that happens, perhaps a more sober appraisal of what exactly took place will ensue.
Meanwhile, for video of the boarding and of IDF's attempts to detour the last ship in the flotilla, click on through to this site, the IDF's spokesperson unit, which posted numerous videos from its POV. Watching these paints a completely different picture than what's being assumed in the mainstream news.
The operation occurred as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahy was visiting Canada and meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the first working visit to the Great White North by an Israeli PM since 1994. Harper's government has been a staunch ally of Israel's since coming to power in 2006.
Netanyahu cut short the trip - including his next stop in Washington to meet US President Barack Obama - so he could return home during this crisis.
Interesting to note that there's still no news on what was found on this ship that was being protected by "peace activists" wielding hand-to-hand combat weaponry. Strange, no?