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Israel Does Not Understand 4GW

The story du jour.

Having previously failed to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza that denies HAMAS war material and economic aid, a coalition of Islamists, Palestinian nationalists and Western Leftists used ships of Turkish registry. The IDF took the bait and blundered into an ambush where the commandos were promptly swarmed by the “peace activists”, overpowered (!) and then had to bloodily shoot their way out of a debacle.

RealClearPolitics has a better video.

Taking stock of this bit of guerrilla theater gone lethal, let’s see what the supporters of HAMAS terrorism gained:

  • The world is hearing a false narrative that Israel massacred unarmed peace activists.

  • Turkey’s ruling, authoritarian, crypto-Islamist Party has a further wedge to downgrade Turkey’s traditional military cooperation with Israel while putting political pressure on Turkish secularists and Army leaders. 

  • Israel’s diplomatic isolation is greatly increased

  • Additional strain is put on the already lukewarm relationship between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government

On the moral level of war, HAMAS supporters – whose strategic objective is to end Israel’s blockade of Gaza, so that HAMAS can rebuild it’s military strength – have scored a solid triumph while the IDF have acted with all the instinctive propensity for causing self-inflicted wounds of Richard Nixon confronting the Watergate break-in. 

Because Israel is powerful and democratic and its enemies, despite their viciousness and authoritarian politics, are weak, the Israelis are not held to the same moral standards by international observers (many of whom, it must be noted, begin with a strongly anti-Israel or at least, anti-Western, orientation).  In a 4GW paradigm, even acting in self-defense is not enough for a strong state to play the role of “the good guy” in a globalized media environment, unless the weak side does something that is viscerally morally repulsive – ex. Abu Zarqawi ‘s extreme brutality and lust for staging ghoulish beheadings of captives on the internet.

There seems to be a stunning political-strategic tone deafness on the part of Israeli leaders in recent years. Perhaps there is a degradition of IDF tactical excellence as well. Overpowering highly trained, heavily armed, elite commandos by untrained civilians is not possible unless said commandos were sent in poorly briefed, with unworkable ROE (IMHO, this was more likely a prepared ambush than a spontaneous act). There’s no half-way method of seizing a hostile ship by force. Either you do it swiftly, while citing appropriate legal justification or you don’t and employ a different set of responses to turn the ships away in a manner that does not alienate observers.

Military force used ineffectually is as counterproductive as force used excessively. From a Boydian strategic perspective, the initiative is lost, opponents are “pumped up” while one’s own side and sympathizers are demoralized.  Political irritants become inflated into disasters. HAMAS, Hezbollah, al Qaida and similar entities are not the old, state-sponsored, state-centric, PLO and they are not playing the PLO’s game.


Abu Muqawama gives the “peace flotilla” way too much benefit of the doubt here, but his analysis of how poorly the Israelis handled this situation is spot on:

One could, from the start, think a number of different things about those participating in the peace flotilla to Gaza. (Naive? Righteous? Courageous? Anti-Semitic?) But for the sake of argument, and putting ourselves in the shoes of an Israeli naval commander, let’s assume the most malevolent of motivations for the people participating in the peace flotilla. If I am in charge of doing that for the Israeli Navy, I am going to assume these people are smart and are deliberately trying to provoke a crazy response from my sailors and soldiers that will produce ready-for-television images that both isolate Israel within the international community and further raise the ire of the Arabic-speaking and Islamic worlds. I mean, that is my base assumption for what this group is trying to do. So naturally, the last thing I would want my forces to do would be to overreact, right? It’s like when your convoy gets fired on inside a crowded market: the last thing you want to do is return fire with 7.62mm, killing a bunch of civilians and giving the enemy exactly the effect he was looking for.

If something does go wrong, meanwhile, I am going to have a response ready. I am going to have my very best spokespersons on international and Israeli television. I am most certainly not going to let people like Danny Ayalon provide my government’s response, right? Because a live wire like Ayalon — who the Turks already hate, with an understandable passion — will just say something incredibly crazy like how the people in the aid flotilla were terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda. (Even if you can prove this is somehow true, everyone you need to be speaking to right now — the international community, the Turkish people, the Arabic-speaking world — is just going to think you are nuts for saying it or will roll their eyes and say, “Oh, of course he’s saying that.”)

In reality, what happened today is the Israelis got their butts handed to them. The Israeli response to this aid flotilla was a fabulous gift to Hamas and Iran. (Try to imagine, if you will, the Israelis trying to go before the U.N. Security Council to gather support for sanctions on the Iranian regime right now. They would be more likely to leave New York with sanctions on their own regime!)


George Friedman of STRATFOR ( Hat tip to Adam Elkus)

Flotillas and the Wars of Public Opinion

….The bid to shape global perceptions by portraying the Palestinians as victims of Israel was the first prong of a longtime two-part campaign. The second part of this campaign involved armed resistance against the Israelis. The way this resistance was carried out, from airplane hijackings to stone-throwing children to suicide bombers, interfered with the first part of the campaign, however. The Israelis could point to suicide bombings or the use of children against soldiers as symbols of Palestinian inhumanity. This in turn was used to justify conditions in Gaza. While the Palestinians had made significant inroads in placing Israel on the defensive in global public opinion, they thus consistently gave the Israelis the opportunity to turn the tables. And this is where the flotilla comes in.

The Turkish flotilla aimed to replicate the Exodus story or, more precisely, to define the global image of Israel in the same way the Zionists defined the image that they wanted to project. As with the Zionist portrayal of the situation in 1947, the Gaza situation is far more complicated than as portrayed by the Palestinians. The moral question is also far more ambiguous. But as in 1947, when the Zionist portrayal was not intended to be a scholarly analysis of the situation but a political weapon designed to define perceptions, the Turkish flotilla was not designed to carry out a moral inquest.

Instead, the flotilla was designed to achieve two ends. The first is to divide Israel and Western governments by shifting public opinion against Israel. The second is to create a political crisis inside Israel between those who feel that Israel’s increasing isolation over the Gaza issue is dangerous versus those who think any weakening of resolve is dangerous.


Very interesting. Tom Barnett argues the flotilla is a Trojan horse chess move on Ankara’s part to justify Turkey’s eventual membership in the Nuclear Club:

Turkey’s deputy prime minister called the raid “a dark stain on the history of humanity.” So now Ankara has its bloody shirt, which will be used – once Tehran inevitably announces the weaponization of its nukes – to justify Turkey’s rapid reach for the same. Just like Tehran cannot openly rationalize its bid for regional supremacy vis-à-vis archrival Saudi Arabia, Turkey requires an appropriate villain for its nuclear morality play. Anybody watching the deterioration of Turkish-Israeli relations over the past year knew that some cause célèbre was in the works. Suddenly, if perhaps on purpose, Turkey can claim that – despite its efforts to broker a non-nuclear peace in the region (including a recent enrichment deal engineered with Brazil) – it needs its own deterrent against Israel’s nuclear arsenal, too.

Checkmate, Turkey.


57 Responses to “Israel Does Not Understand 4GW”

  1. Mithras Says:

    Perhaps there is a degradition of IDF tactical excellence as well.

    Their performance in the 2006 Lebanon war was less than impressive, too. Maybe they believe their own hype; maybe occupation duty causes good soldiers to rust.

  2. anon Says:

    Israel could also go for the ultrakill by nailing Hamas in the digital media for their outright lies.Dozens of these activists published outright lies about the event, in text, on the internets. They are smoked. 

  3. Joseph Fouche Says:

    It’s interesting that the IDF had cameras available to counter the enemy narrative. Unfortunately, they seem to have been sent to film a version of the Keystone Cops.

  4. zen Says:

    It was Keystone Cop-like. Were but for ppl being killed, one can almost hear the Benny Hill theme playing as the video runs.
    It may be, as I am not an expert on things Israeli, that the leadership of the IDF has reached a period of careerism, CYAism and an American-like disconnect of military operations from grand strategy and political judgment.
    Imagine having fifty of your friends on hand and a squad of Navy SEALS burst in, brandishing weapons at you. If you spontaneously swarm them, armed with fists, pipes and knives, you will most likely all die. If you swarm them because you expected their arrival and had some rudimentary tactics ready, you will do better but you will still probably die. Now imagine the SEALS have been ordered to capture you without shooting anyone – unless they are about to be killed. Well, then the odds change. Significantly.
    That sounds like what the Israeli commandos were ordered to do by someone unwilling to accept any responsibility for making realistic military and political decisions and hoped to get by on bluffing, sticking the soldiers with the consequences ( physical, legal, professional and political) if their bluff was called.
    Any readers with real knowledge of the Israeli political scene/IDF are asked to weigh in here.

  5. Joseph Fouche Says:

    It makes me wonder how much input Netanyahu put into this operation. Netanyahu is a former commando. His older brother was the commander  (and sole Israeli military casualty) of Israel’s greatest special commando raid, Operation Entebbe. Goes to show that military experiences not a panacea in a political leader.

  6. zen Says:

    Agreed. Netanyahu also used to be a skilled spinmeister/talking head in his younger days with a good grasp of media nuances, especially American media. That capacity appears to have atrophied.

  7. Stephen Pampinella Says:

    Nice analysis.Not an expert on the Israelis, but Sergio Catignani’s work is a great insight into their strategic culture. He argues the IDF has a penchant for seeing all problems as having military solutions, leaving them unable to conceptualize the political consequences. http://www.amazon.com/Israeli-Counter-Insurgency-Intifadas-Dilemmas-Conventional/dp/0415570123/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275361160&sr=8-1

  8. Schmedlap Says:

    When I saw the video of dudes fastroping into a crowd of angry people, I thought "WTF? Seriously? WTF???" I am no expert on highly specialized operations like this, but it seems to me that dropping some flashbangs and/or tear gas onto the boats before zipping down the rope would have been a good idea, both in hindsight and foresight.

  9. zen Says:

    "He argues the IDF has a penchant for seeing all problems as having military solutions, leaving them unable to conceptualize the political "
    Hmmmm……sounds familiar…..who else is like that ? 🙂

  10. zen Says:

    I’m with you, Schmedlap. My thought is "not allowed to". I suppose the commanding officer on the scene could simply be an incompetent but how likely is that in so politically sensitive an incident? Micromanagement seems more likely.

  11. Eddie Says:

    Never bring a paintball gun to a pipe fight (and I gather there were some knives and bags of marbles too).

    You could argue the Israeli blockade of Gaza is itself proof they do not understand 4GW. It accomplishes little for the security of Israel and postpones the day of accountability for Hamas by giving them a valid excuse for Gaza’s economic devastation and social decay (almost the same way we prop Fidel up by keeping the embargo).

    I’m no specialist on the IDF so I’ll leave that discussion of their problems to the better-knowledgeable, but I can speak fairly well for Israeli politics. Bibi is in a weak coalition government packed with fascist and religious extremist parties. He has a veritable cast of amateurs appointed to posts in the government he had little say in choosing, so its difficult for him to rein in the more dimwitted and asinine ideas hatched by the underlings of his aligned parties. This doesn’t excuse his inability to prioritize what matters for Israel’s strategic interests over his narrow political needs (its doubtful him and Tzipi Livni could come to terms for sharing power that he could live with, so he in essence picked his poison knowing the domestic political constraints he was shackling himself with), but it does explain much of the incompetence Israel has experienced since he assumed power.

  12. Stephen Pampinella Says:

    Haha, touche.

  13. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » Israel Does Not Understand 4GW Says:

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  14. toto Says:

    This doesn’t excuse his inability to prioritize what matters for Israel’s strategic interests
    I’m not sure about that.  I think he just has a very specific idea of what Israel’s "strategic interests" are.

    The basic point is that Netanyahu is a hard-core Zionist. In his mind, the Hebrews are the rightful owners of the land – all the land. He accepts that simply expelling the Arabs is unfeasible politically. His overarching objective, therefore, is to conquer and settle as much of "Palestine" as possible, while converting the rest into Bantustans in which the Palestinians can be basically locked up and watched over. This implies perpetual low-intensity conflict, which must be accepted as a fact of life and dealt with while minimizing the number of Israeli casualties.

    Seen from this viewpoint, the recent record of Israeli policy (this latest SNAFU included) suddenly makes a whole lot more sense.

  15. slapout9 Says:

    Zen it’s all SBW,been talking about it over at the SWC for good while, here is the code. The attacking system uses people as soldiers that don’t look like soldiers, They use things as weapons that don’t look like weapons, they use places as battlefields that don’t look like battlefields. It’s purpose is to make the enemies power irrealavant to you accomplishing your mission. It is Strategic stuff and I think you are going to see a lot more of it.

  16. Eddie Says:

    Galrahn has a great post about the "international law" aspects of it.



     Perhaps, but if you consider (as most Israelis and supporters here in the US) the Iranian threat as the "strategic/existential" one on Israel’s horizon, alienating international support (especially the American military and government) is a fool’s game, and that is what Bibi’s government has been busy doing since it assumed power.

    I would add tensions with the US military stem from CENTCOM’s growing appreciation for Israeli’s destructive effect on our relationships in the region, especially with KSA and Egypt trying desperately to lobby peace agreements between the Syrians and Israelis and the West Bank Palestinians and Israelis. Also, the outright lies and hysteria spread by certain Israeli gov’t officials WRT the US military training of PA security forces in Jenin and elsewhere (who have proven to be very competent and kept their noses clean of attacking Israeli interests) pissed a good number of flag officers and intel types off.

    Still, I see the wisdom of what you’re seeing in Israeli policy. Given the significant rightward/fascist tilt the Israeli population has experienced (and I mean fascist in the sense of the parties and platforms advocated by Lieberman and his kind, not the current government’s leader or main party, Likud) because of extensive out-migration by secular and left/left-of-center Israelis since Rabin’s assassination, that  makes sense.

  17. ShrinkWrapped Says:

    A Time of Testing…

    The news out of the Middle East is dispiriting. Israel has suffered a major defeat in the information war being waged against it. Among Israel’s friends the reactions ranges from anger at the Israeli government for botching the response to……

  18. Ray Says:

    The author of this article makes no mention of the fact that the Gazans are starving…that’s why that had the flotillas, not to get weapons…Israel has an Air Force and  a Navy…and is an Apartheid State…….biased article on Zenpundit to say the least…

  19. Schmedlap Says:

    You can buy just about anything you want at a market in Gaza. If the Gazans are starving, blame the self-serving thugs and gunmen who rule the territory and claim to support them.

  20. Eddie Says:

    Where is the evidence they can buy anything they want? I understand food and medicine are not in very short supply, but without a functioning economy (as no construction materials can be brought in to help rebuild the area after the last war and trade is made extremely difficult, if not impossible, by the blockade itself and Israeli border policies), how can the people afford any goods? They live in what is essentially a prison until the policies of Israel or Hamas change.  They live in that prison because the group they democratically elected to power was not to the liking of the Israeli and US governments (the latter of which demanded the very elections they are punishing the Gazans for and then balked at the result).

    Whether its right or wrong, Gazans cannot live a normal existence because of the blockade. Also, to make the argument that if they "are starving, blame the self-serving thugs and gunmen who rule the territory and claim to support them" is to come close to naively mimicking what UBL and other terrorists have claimed for years in their attacks on innocent civilians of democracies (as in "well these people voted for it, so they must face the consequences of their votes and the policies of the government they voted in").  Gazans voted for a government better than the corrupt PA at the time. They made the best choice they could at the time. They will get another chance soon.

  21. Ray Says:

    So Schmedlap:  you’re saying blame Hamas…you call them thugs….wasn’t the IDF who murderd over 400 children in Gaza?…or are you going to blame the victims once again?

    …the Red Cross and other organizations have reported high levels of malnutrition in Gaza…but that’s because the Gazans won’t succumb to the the brutality of the IDF (does that sound like thugery?)….Maybe you should get beyond the IDF script you’re reading and expose yourself to some facts…

  22. Eddie Says:


     That doesn’t change the fact that Hamas is still a terrorist organization even though it has political and social wings. When you accuse the IDF of atrocities, you don’t mention the reality that Hamas purposely stations fighters and arms caches in civilian areas in order to attract disproportionate IDF attention that allows them to parade dead civilians they can parade around the streets the next day as martyrs.

  23. Schmedlap Says:

    Eddie, for a recent example, see the May 23 Financial Times, or simply google "gaza tunnel economy."
    Ray, yes, I’m reading from an IDF script. You’ve exposed me. Now I must change my identity and move to a new city.

  24. Fred Says:

    Eddie: "the reality that Hamas purposely stations fighters and arms caches in civilian areas" Considering the geographical size and population of Gaza, are there any non-civilian areas in Gaza?

  25. Eddie Says:


     That doesn’t replace the economy that once existed. Underground economies exist nearly everywhere… big surprise.
    "For most Gazans, the period since the end of Israel’s three-week offensive in January last year has brought little improvement. According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the number of “abject poor”, who depend on food aid, trebled to 300,000 – or one in five of all Gazans – in 2009.One western official says the tunnels act like a “humanitarian safety valve”, but cautions that they offer no solution to economic decline. As Mr Hammad says: “An economy cannot just depend on tunnels.”You fail to mention or explain how people are supposed to pay for such goods with no job because there is no viable economy beyond smuggling and working for Hamas. Or how many Gazan companies that once thrived before the blockade have now gone out of business. Of course people with money will get products they desire (this was even the case in North Korea for a decade or more among those with means before the private markets were shut down temporarily). Yet that is not the reality for most Gazans.

  26. Eddie Says:


     Now that is true to an extent (though there are many zones of Gaza where the population is heavier or lighter dependent on the time of day and others where it is consistently densely inhabited and there still are declared Hamas operational areas (obviously empty of fighters during Op Cast Lead)….hence the difference between stationing your fighters in front of, within and on the roofs of apartment buildings versus doing the same in a warehouse or government building. 

  27. Ray Says:

    Eddie: depends on how you define "terrorist"…what do you call murdering human rights activists and children?  The IDF has had no problem with civilian casualties…but if you want to blame someone else for their carnage, that’s being an "apologist"….

  28. Purpleslog Says:

    Eddie…Ray isn’t looking for fact based discussion. Don’t fall into his trap.

  29. MM Says:

    Stratfor is correct.  "A Pox On Both Your Houses" is in order. Israel is a little nation and Palestine is less than that.  For all that America has done from liberating the camps in 1945, to sending guns and money in the 50s & 60s to outright military and monetary and political support for every day since 1946 we have ashes to hold for it.  How many arrows in out chest does it take defending people who do not want peace and who just want to use us for their own ends does it take?  BOTH Israel and Palestine. We have dying oil wells and a fire breathing dragon in the east.  We have schools that turn out lawyers not engineers.  We have a huge drug problem and a war on out Me3xico border.  we have an aging population that will bankrupt Social Security and Medicare in a few years.  we have a dysfunctional government that fights over everything to accomplish nothing.  To even waste time and money and effort thinking about Israel and Palestine right now borders on self destructive and mentally ill. Israel – Palestine.  We no longer know thee.  You are nothing to us and we no longer see you.  Go your own way that you choose yourself with only yourself as company.

  30. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Stratfor is incorrect and using the tactic of moral equivalence to suggest absolution from future involvement with an ally is despicable but par for the course for an isolationist.

  31. MM Says:

    There is no morality in any of this.  

  32. (More) Turkish Flotilla Links « Random Musings of a Deranged Mind Says:

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  33. Not-Schmedlap Says:

    I suspect that Schmedlap is in the process of changing his identity and relocating after being outed as an IDF operative by Ray, so I’ll weigh in here. I think you are reading a lot into Schmedlap’s very brief statements. He could very well have typed that you "can buy just about anything you want at a market in" Baltimore. That does not mean that everyone in Baltimore can afford everything sold in that market. FYI – for a more recent and balanced discussion (treads a good middle ground between what you are asserting and what you apparently think Schmedlap is asserting) see today’s article by Rex Brynan at the Foreign Policy website.

  34. Joseph Fouche Says:

    Israel-Palestine is a sideshow. You push that button and watch smoke and noise engulf the media. All of the interesting developments are in Turkey. This is Erdogan’s Putin moment. The Erdogan government was the moving force behind this operation. The real question, as Zen and Barnett focus on, is what do the Turks want and how far are they planning to go to get it. That is the Eastern Question.

  35. Watcher of Weasels » Council Submissions June 2, 2010 Says:

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  36. Eddie Says:


     I agree with you. I suspect there may be greater flashpoints and opportunities for Turkey’s emergence (as a "frenemy" perhaps?) in the near future though, esp. if Israel attacks Iran as they seem to be moving towards or the Iraqi civil war flares up again.


  37. Robert Colot Says:

    4th Generational warfare, where truth doesn’t matter.

  38. Jonathan Says:

    Yes, it’s about Turkey. It’s no more about Israel than the Iranian revolution was about Israel. Turkey’s position was ambiguous, now it’s unambiguous. Whether Turkey remains our enemy, and the extent to which Turkey causes us problems, may depend on the cost Turkey pays for being an enemy. If we allow the Turks to skate on their responsibility for the “peace activist” attack there may be more such attacks, and possibly escalations, and perhaps eventually direct provocations of the USA, as well as continued aid to our other enemies. That’s been the pattern with Iran, which has yet to pay a serious price for its many attacks on US interests over the years. Israel should slap Turkey hard, and if they don’t do it we should because it’s in our interest. (Punishing Turkey doesn’t necessarily require military action. We have plenty of leverage that doesn’t require force. So does Israel, as Noah Pollak pointed out.)

    Yes, Israel/Palestine is a sideshow. The notion that our alliance with Israel hurts us assumes that we need to appease hostile public opinion in the Arab world. In fact much of the Arab world is already tacitly allied with Israel against the Iranian axis. America’s unwillingness to acknowledge and respond coherently to the threat posed by that axis is the real cause of many of our current difficulties.

  39. C. Seth Levinson Says:

    At the top it says "no man should be a judge in his own cause". The author should follow it. The fact that the author has a "side" in this makes his analysis worthless, basically propaganda. ZzzzzzzzThis is poor strategic analysis. 

  40. zen Says:

    Hi C. Seth,
    Opinions vary. 😉

  41. RanDomino Says:

    Or maybe, just maybe, Hamas is actually not a real threat to Israel, and Israel actually is engaging in ethnic cleansing.  To hold a view agreeing with or contradicting that statement is basically opinion… but I don’t see how someone can disagree with it without being blind, deaf, and dumb.

  42. Not-Schmedlap Says:

    C. Seth, I think you’re reading that quote out of context. The word "judge" refers to someone acting in a capacity with the authority to impose a legally enforceable decision upon other parties. In that instance, I think the reason for that rule is self-evident. In the instance of this blog, it should also be self-evident why it does not apply. It does not refer to merely voicing one’s opinion. But your comment is still appreciated. I got a good chuckle when you referred to someone else’s analysis as worthless.

  43. Joseph Fouche Says:

    Apparently we need a cast iron Zenpundit who is completely beyond any accusation of Zionist complicity, nay beyond any human partiality. Unfortunately, we may have to settle for the propaganda spewed out by all of these Zionist Entity stool pigeons controlled from deep under the Negev by the Elders of Zion.

    (For those who are confused, this is what the Zionists label "irony". Avoid contact with it at all costs. It will corrode your berserker zeal.)

  44. John Walters Says:

    ‘At the top it says "no man should be a judge in his own cause". ”Apparently we need a cast iron Zenpundit who is completely beyond any accusation of Zionist complicity, nay beyond any human partiality.’Every responsible thinker should do his best to recognize his own biases and conflicts of interest.Sadly, I think zenpundit is, for whatever reason, sentimentally attached to Israel, and so is inexcusably failing to mention that Israel fired on the activists first.However, this page has mentioned that Turkey may have been the political force that engineered this – and that is noteworthy.

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  46. zen Says:

    Hi John Walters,
    Actually I mentioned it in my first paragraph:
    "The IDF took the bait and blundered into an ambush where the commandos were promptly swarmed by the “peace activists”, overpowered (!) and then had to bloodily shoot their way out of a debacle."
    Now if you want me to further allocute that the Israelis used firearms *first*, fine, they did.
    The point of the post is not Israel vs.HAMAS – though I do not empathize at all with HAMAS – but strategy. Israel is shooting itself in the foot because it does not understand the moral level of conflict operating here. Kinetics alone – especially poorly executed tactical missions -will create results like the other day. Making decisions within an insular, self-referential framework – as Israeli leaders increasingly seem to be doing – compounds the errors and probably explains the blindness toward the AKP shifting Turkey away from Israel.

  47. John Walters Says:

    Thanks Zenpundit,I seem to have misunderstood your text.  I got the image of the commandos getting swarmed first, then shooting.  It was my understanding that the commandos shot before closing to hand-to-hand distance; permit me to belabor the niceties of the issue.The Israeli narrative is that the hippies struck first:"The passengers on the Marmara beat our soldiers with every object they had and wounded some of them," the statement quoted him as saying."The soldiers defended themselves." Conversely, the hippie narrative is that the Israelis shot tear gas and stun grenades at the very least, before the commandos descended.  Considering that a gas grenade can kill or maim when it strikes a person, my understanding was that the Israelis initiated deadly force from a distance, even before they fast-roped down to the deck.

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  50. Dan Says:

    Stupid question what happens when a sophisticated technologically advanced nation like Israel catches on to the "Peace Activists" game and starts using the same tactics against them. Could be interesting.  Especially with all the friends they have in Hollywood.

  51. John Walters Says:

    Updated | 5:02 p.m. On Thursday, Al Jazeera English broadcast an interview with Jamal Elshayyal, one of the channel’s journalists who was on board the Mavi Marmara on Monday when it was intercepted by Israeli commandos enforcing a naval blockade on Gaza.In his account of the start of the raid, which left nine activists dead and has sparked calls for an independent investigation, Mr. Elshayyal insisted that the Israelis had fired live ammunition at the ship from the air before commandos landed on the boat and said that he had seen someone shot and killed by a bullet that hit the top of his head. He said, in part:

    As soon as this attack started, I was on the top deck and within just a few minutes there were live shots being fired from above the ship, from above, from where the helicopters were. […]The first shots that were fired were either some sort of sound grenades, there was some tear gas that was fired as well as rubber-coated bullets. They were fired initially and the live bullets came roughly about five minutes after that.

    Asked if the shots fired at the ship by the Israeli forces had seemed to come from ships nearby or the helicopters above, Mr. Elshayyal said:

    It was evident there was definitely fire from the air, because one of the people who was killed was clearly shot from above — he was shot, the bullet targeted him at the top of his head. There was also fire coming from the sea as well. Most of the fire initially from the sea was tear gas canisters, sound grenades, but then it became live fire. After I finished filing that last report and I was going down below deck one of the passengers who was on the side of the deck holding a water hose — trying to hose off, if you will, the advancing Israeli navy — was shot in his arm by soldiers in the boats below. […]There is no doubt from what I saw that live ammunition was fired before any Israeli soldier was on deck. What I saw, the sequence of events that took place, there was a pool camera, so reporters took it in turns to file, so after I had done my first file, I turned around to see what was going on and there were several shots fired. In fact, one of the helicopters at the front of the ship, you could almost see the soldiers pointing their guns down through some sort of hole or compartment at the bottom side of the helicopter and firing almost indiscriminately without even looking where they were firing. And those bullets were definitely live bullets.

    Mr. Elshayyal’s account, of course, is only one part of the puzzle, and it will not be accepted easily by people who see his network as biased against Israel.  http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/03/reporter-disputes-israeli-account-of-raid/

  52. Chris C Says:

    With Iran and Turkey now offering to send in Naval forces to support the flotillas the 4GW narrative is even stronger. There are now no good choices for Israel, either start a war, or a humilitating retreat.

    Of course there is always the chance neither Iran and Turkey will carry out their threat, but what would be their motivation not to? This is their finest chance in a generation to weaken Israel, and much of the world’s media will treat them as heroes for doing it.

    Truly dark times.

  53. Not-Schmedlap Says:

    I have long thought that the only solution to the Israel-Palestine issue is some kind of very violent conventional military campaign in which several countries would be involved. I hope it doesn’t happen soon because Iraq would be caught between a rock and a hard place – public pressure to contribute forces when they are more needed at home versus not sending forces and being portrayed as western puppets.

  54. zen Says:

    Hi Chris,
    Nothing would delight the Israelis more if an IRGC boat joined any Turkish ships escorting a flotilla. The IDF would refuse entry of foreign warships into their territorial waters and, if this fleet proceeded, they would immediately sink the Iranians. This would spare Jerusalem the agonizing choice of using force against the Turks and put Ankara on the hot seat of going to war on the side of Iran against Israel or backing down, tails between their legs. 
    NATO and the US will not support Turkey under such circumstances and if Turkish ships were to attack Israeli ships first, they too would be sent to the bottom. Turkey has very little in the way of naval power.

  55. toto Says:

    I have long thought that the only solution to the Israel-Palestine issue is some kind of very violent conventional military campaign
    I suggested something like this on Pat Lang’s blog, and the Colonel answered that even in the absence of direct US assistance, Israel could easily defeat any alliance of Arab countries. Apparently Arab armies really are that bad. Any involvement of Iran would trigger US response and certain Israeli victory.
    Barring strong US pressure (which will not happen), there seems to be no escape from the current "symbiotic stand-off" between Palestinian terrorists and Israeli colonizers. The only novelty in the current dispute is that Turkey is involved, and that Israel apparently thought nothing of alienating its only Muslim ally.

  56. Purpleslog Says:

    Toto…given that "Arab armies really are that bad"…what makes you think they would fight a straight up battle/war?

    The Arab/Islamic actors have proven to be quite good at 4GW.

    Do you think they are researching/riffing the 1967 war for tips, or perhaps the more recent Israeli conflicts with Hamas and Hezbollah or the US Conflicts in Afghanistan/Iraq/Etc. ?

  57. daniel Says:

    Israel was never "given" the land in 1948. It happened through a sequence of events that led to the intl community just letting it happen. That is why there was an Arab-Israeli war in 1948 as well. Up until then, there were acts of sabotage and "terrorism" from both sides- Jews and Arabs, but not frequently. That is why Palestinians do not feel Israel has the right to exist as it does. It turned Palestine, into a Jewish state. How would you like Florida to be turned into a Mormon or Jewish or Hindu State without being asked? Since- Israel has waged a system of attrition. Kicking out Palestinians, moving more and more into their land through "settlements".  You can bet your arse I would be firing rockets and blowing up buses of Jews if I was Arab. I would be doing much more. You come into my neighborhood and announce that it is now Muslim or this or that- I will definitely start protecting myself. Jews have succeeded in making themselves annoying, drawing attention to themselves, etc..it has been like this over and over again in time. Amazing. Do you think it is just "bad luck" that Jews have always had problems no matter where they go? Christians here that "support" Israel, privately think Jews are paying the price of killing Jesus. There only interest in Israel is that it will be the final battleground. Guess who they cannot wait to see burn in hell when "Jesus" comes to save everyone…but.  The Jews! Your Christian "friends" think of you as apostates, damned, grubby, sneaky Jews. Go to a Pentacostal Church and see how many of the members would welcome a Jew….

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