For Israel, a garrison state, almost every challenge is framed as a threat to its existence, just as the Battle of Britain threatened the survival of these islands. That the latest existential challenge, as Israel saw it, took the form of an aid flotilla, possibly infiltrated by extremists but seemingly packed with civilian Turks and Western intellectuals, is an indication of the growing gap in understanding between Israel and its friends.Read the rest here.
Amos Harel, a military and defence commentator, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz yesterday: "No matter how much effort it invests, Israel will never be able to explain to the world how ... civilians were killed, without a single death on our side – and the dead are citizens of the country [Turkey] that was until recently our best friend in the region."
Gaza was the intended destination of the flotilla. Israel holds to its blockade of Gaza, a sliver of land from which it withdrew forces in 2005, because it wants to stop the flow of weapons to Hamas, an extremist Palestinian organisation that rules Gaza and is among those that really do question Israel's right to exist. Hamas is weak and corrupt, though it launches crude and terrorising rocket attacks on Israeli citizens. And Israel demonstrated clearly with its bombardment of Gaza at the end of 2008 that it can blow the militants to smithereens. None the less, Hamas is seen as a deadly threat, and the maintenance of the siege is viewed as crucial to Israel's existence.