Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Israel: Right to defend and Secure Borders?

May 31, 2010 went down in history as the day Israeli naval forces intercepted a flotilla (small fleet) of ships in international waters. The flotilla was bound for Gaza and was determined to break the Gaza blockade - in a bid to deliver humanitarian aid to a people in need. According to Aljazeera, at least 19 people were killed and many wounded (UN reports that 9 people were killed) when armed Israeli commandos descended on one of the ships - the Mavi Marmara. The question is - does the storming of the flotilla have anything to do with Israel's right to defend itself and secure its borders?

You would agree that over the years, Israel has repeatedly asserted its right to defend itself and secure its borders. This, no doubt, is Israel's famous justification for using excessive force in military operations that more often than not result in civilian casualties.

Like many people, you are probably wonder why the government of Israel is so suspicious and "obsessed" with defending and securing its borders. To feed your curiosity, I did a little research and found a video clip that clears the doubts. WATCH...

Israel unconditionally has the right to defend and secure its borders. But this right comes with obligations to respect basic principles of international law.

Since Israeli commandos intercepted the flotilla, Israel has been on the headlines - for all the wrong reasons. The international community has condemned the action, with strong words from Palestine, Iran, Turkey, France, Britain, Italy, Germany, just to name a few. The European Union, Arab League and the Vatican also issued statements against the attack. Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General, was "shocked" by the tragedy and condemned Israel's action.

It is worth mentioning that the White House was more cautious in its statement: "The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy."

Personally, I understand Israel's security concerns and respect its right to defend and secure its borders. But the flotilla incident left me with no doubt that Israel used disproportionate force against humanitarians in international waters. Israel should be held accountable! No civilian should die on a humanitarian mission to deliver aid to a people in need. Israel should exercise restraint in the assertion of its right to defend itself and secure its borders.

It is fair to say - the activists would have simply used "authorised channels" to deliver the much needed aid to Gaza. The loss of innocent lives was preventable.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has ordered an investigation into the flotilla raid.

UPDATE - UN Report: Israel violated international law during flotilla raid.

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