Once upon a time the world was impressed by an efficient and effective Israel army that could perform incredible feats of intelligence and daring in order to overcome problems such as the famed Entebbe raid which resulted in freeing airline passengers held hostage by Palestinian extremists. But, today, the world shakes its head in amazement at the incompetent performance displayed by the Israel Defense Force in the Three Stooges effort to halt some ships carrying civilians and supplies. Even Meir Dagan, head of the spy agency Mossad, warned that Israel is gradually being transformed from an asset into a liability for the American government. As he spoke, the Israel establishment swung into action refusing to admit any mistakes, blaming their adversaries, shouting the ever popular, “the world is against Jews” complaint and persuading the Israel public it is “them” not “us” who are to blame for an unmitigated military, political, and social disaster.
Top political leaders like Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Netanyahu held a two hour briefing last week and approved the operation. Both men formerly served in the elite commandos and share a fondness for secret operations. Commandos who participated in the operation claim they were told they would be confronting peace activists but no mention was made of the possibility some of the passengers might resort to violent opposition. The initial drop of four commandos became a disaster when difficulty arose trying to get more men on the ship. This resulted in the beating of these men by an enraged crowd.
Perhaps, one problem is the lack of interest on the part of the IDF in developing peaceful strategies of dealing with angry crowds. In simple English (or Hebrew) the entire plan failed. The entire Gaza blockade has failed in its goals of weakening Hamas. Every action of the IDF results in Hamas emerging as the victor, not the defeated. When will Israel learn the best way to confront those seeking a provocation is not to accept the bait, but to turn the tables on them. For example, what if Israel welcomed the ships, had a band playing, and as passengers got off their boats they were greeted by members of the IDF who gave each a hug, showed them where to store their supplies, and asked passengers to help them inspect what was delivered? Who would the world have praised?