The events of the last day and a half have gripped both Israel and the Arab world. Condemnation, demonstrations, and questions have continued today over the stopping and seizing of the Gaza Aid flotilla.
Israel has had problems consolidating it's response, and the images continue to be broadcast of the events.
We have yet to hear from the eyewitnesses on the lead boat of the flotilla themselves – but it's coming, as Israel has deported approximately 48 foreign nationals at this time who will be arriving to walls of press at their final destinations. There are around 600 who are being jailed for not signing their deportation orders, and about 49 still in hospitals around Israel. But as they do begin to return to their homes, it is obvious that this event will not be quickly forgotten – nor it's repercussions pass quickly.
And of repercussions – Mr. Netanyahu again is forced into an awkward situation with President Obama… but this time he is also facing stern criticism within his political core, as it has come out in the Hebrew press that the proper channels for such decision making in military actions of this nature were not followed.
Some say this whole thing was a trap – and maybe there is some of that element at work here – but it also may have been used as an opportunity to entrap the Israeli Prime Minister by some of his competitive political elements here.
In the end, the blockade will remain, however the activists do have, regrettably (or perhaps stupidly) the worlds attention focused on the desperate humanitarian situation of the average Palestinian in Gaza. And Israel is struggling to justify the actions taken both in the decision making that lead up to the boarding of the Turkish vessel and the subsequent situation the soldiers found themselves in. Of huge significance – is the fact that Egypt has opened it's Rafah crossing for an unspecified period as a mad rush of aid and people flood it – the aid to get in, the people to get out. This is a major crack in Israel's seal around Gaza – and it is a direct result of the actions of Israel's boarding and quelling of the main activist vessel.
It may be plausible, that the relatively small number of passengers compared to the ships total, took the foolish action to confront the soldiers after being rallied up. Whoever incited them needs to be brought forth for justice and responsibility as well as any other party, for the deaths and injuries of all who were there yesterday morning.
One thing seem comes to mind when you strip it all down, the sometimes cruel way one thinks about the way things work here in the Middle East… Mr. Netanyahu needs to strengthen his position, and Hamas is the 'problem' here as far as Israel, America, and many of the worlds' powers see it. The Hamas regime, lead locally in Gaza by Mr. Ismail Haniyeh, is managing to exact a huge price on Israel – and is gaining more strength from actions unfortunate as they are right now. And not only that – whether they be proximity talks – or direct peace negotiations – there will be no peace without Gaza involved. Mr. Haniyeh days may well be numbered… but right now, we got two more vessels still intending to go to Gaza out on the Mediterranean.
I'll have the latest for you tomorrow on the Harvest Show,
Middle East Correspondent