Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel Flotilla Attack Leaves 10 Dead (Video). Nations Call for Investigation

Happy Memorial Day. On this day when we remember the cost of war, fallen soldiers, I am saddened to relay this news that's all over the media this morning, "Israeli soldiers stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid intended for Palestinians in Gaza, leaving at least 10 people dead in the resulting violence," per CNN and other sources, such as the Wall Street Journal.
Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla carrying aid and activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip early Monday, with the Israeli military saying that more than 10 activists were killed in a skirmish aboard one vessel during the operation. ...The incident triggered strong condemnation from Israel's friends and foes alike, and plunged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into his worst diplomatic crisis since taking power early last year.
From Reuters:

Having recently written for about North Korea threatening war on South Korea and the history of that tension, I'm not inclined to go into any detail about the Middle East conflict. Most adult Americans who watch news regularly probably know the background of the animosity between Arab nations and Israel, Palestinian woes, the hopes for peace, and the Gaza blockade.

As is often the case in politics, what you believe to be facts is influenced by who writes the history you read. If you want to see how talking about Israel without enough information can result in outrage, read this old post by a less-informed blogger posted in 2008 and the 139 mostly angry comments that follow.

On today's news, CNN reports that Israel says Israel Defense Forces "soldiers' lives were in danger after they were attacked with "severe physical violence, including live fire, weapons, knives and clubs." As you can see in the video below, Israel is saying the ship was commanded by terrorists. Other countries are calling for an investigation into what some are calling "a massacre."

Netanyahu, according to the WSJ, was scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama in Washington Tuesday. The visit was on the presidents calendar before today's violence, and the U.S. and Israel, old allies, hoped to repair its relationship. The visit has been cancelled. Reuters provides a factbox here on Israel's diplomatic troubles.

Obama had also invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with whom he planned to meet separately. Reuters reported before today's attack that the "meetings with Obama will be the first for the Middle Eastern leaders since the start of indirect peace talks which began last month, with Obama's special envoy George Mitchell mediating between the parties."

The White House did not give a date for Obama's meeting with Abbas and cited scheduling logistics as the reason.

Via the AP, here's video of the protests that followed the attack on the flotilla and reported deaths.

And on YouTube, this video's been posted and is also reportedly from the incident. The report begins in Arabic, but then a speaker comes on in English.

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