They are engaging in self-defense. More to the point: they are civilians confronting one of the best militaries in the world. They killed no soldiers; their weapons were improvised; the death toll in the fight is now deemed to be up to 19 - all civilians. It staggers me to read defenses of what the Israelis have done. They attacked a civilian flotilla in international waters breaking no law. When they met fierce if asymmetric resistance, they opened fire. And we are now being asked to regard the Israelis as the victims.I'm still very, very skeptical that the U.S. will do a damned thing. I'd like to be wrong, but I don't expect to be.
This is like a mini-Gaza all over again. The Israelis don't seem to grasp that Western militaries don't get to murder large numbers of civilians because they don't like them, or because they could, on a far tinier scale, hurt Israelis. And you sure don't have a right to kill them because they resist having their ship commandeered, in international waters. The Israelis seem to be making decisions as if they can get away with anything. It's time the US reminded them in ways they cannot mistake that they cannot.
And, yes, Sullivan is right. Since the blockade has not been accepted under international law—nor could it be, considering that Gaza is in fact under Israeli control and not an enemy state—Israel had no right to attack those ships. Israel has always maintained that acts of violence are only illegal under international law if they are aggressive in nature. They maintain that defensive violence and territorial acquisition is legitimate, in order to justify the settlements in occupied lands.
Well, that's what's happened here: defense. Even if the activists had fired on the descending commandos, they still would have had the right of it, because it was the commandos who are the aggressors. They didn't, of course, and apparently there is footage out there of the Israelis firing long before their first commando hit the deck of the Mavi Marmara. But it's still important to be clear about the irrelevance of the "debate".