And yet the deaths of the nine—called “peace activists” by much of the media—sparked such an outcry that eventually three Israeli commissions and two international ones were set up to investigate what had happened. The more consequential of the latter two, the UN’s Palmer Commission, gave a ruling last September that was seen as basically vindicating Israel in its ongoing bitter diplomatic spat with Turkey over the incident. Still, while the Palmer Commission concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was thoroughly legal, it blamed the commandos for using too much force—apparently believing they should have kept relying on their paintball guns instead of finally drawing their pistols to save themselves from a grisly fate.
At the time, however, Israel tried hard to convey that the commandos’ attackers were members of the IHH, a radical organization with global-jihad, including Al Qaeda, links. Belatedly, the fact that the likes of al-Harati—who doesn’t need too much dot-connecting to arrive at the Madrid train bombings—was not only on the ship but wounded in the fighting is further substantiation of the point. So, for that matter, is Hamas terror-master Ismail Haniyeh’s visit with the relatives of the Mavi Marmara casualties on Monday.
The larger point, of course, is that the West has trouble identifying the nature and agenda of actors in the Middle East. From Iran in 1979 to the Mavi Marmara to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia—and possibly Syria—at present, those claiming virtue can turn out to be much the opposite. Clearly, Assad’s fall would be a blow to Tehran’s axis. Those struggling to replace him have to be watched closely.
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