Views from Russia on the Gaza Strip

It wasn’t Israel’s attack on the naval convoy destined for the Gaza strip that shocked and surprised Russian pundits, who were mostly sympathetic to Israel in its reaction to not let the flotilla pass at all costs, even to the point of violence. On the contrary, they were surprised by the naivete of the Western media observers in the face of an overtly pro-Palestinian political operation in which Israel's reputation was further harmed.
The Middle East Loop

Fedor Lukyanov
The Moscow Times

Unquestionably, sympathy for the people of Gaza was not the only motive of the organizers of the Freedom Flotilla. Deliberate violation of the naval blockade was a political act that had nothing in common with a humanitarian mission. An impartial investigation could establish how many of those on board were human rights activists and how many were there to stage a political provocation. However, an investigation is unlikely to take place, because neither the Israeli nor the pro-Palestinian side is interested in it.

The question, however, is not one of apportioning blame, but of who stands to lose in the longer term. The odds are this will be Israel.

The outlook is bleak. Sensing waning international support, Israel will likely take a more radical, self-reliant stand in order to survive and will thus bring grist to the mill of the more conservative opponents of President Obama in the United States. Meanwhile, the Arab side will no doubt increase pressure on Israel out of overt or covert sympathy for the Palestinians.

The battle at sea

Vladimir Beider
Kommersant Ogonyok

In reality, there were no options. Just as Israel could not stop the Flotilla, it cannot lift the blockade of Gaza, which was the purpose of the whole exercise.

What next? The scenario is not really new. The first wave of international condemnation of Israel’s actions will be followed by a second round. The U.N. Human Rights Committee is calling for a commission to investigate “Israel’s aggressive actions against a peaceful humanitarian convoy.” The situation for the Jewish state has a massive element of déjà vu.

Five years ago, after Israel’s total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Hamas set up training camps for militants and rocket launchers in place of the dismantled Jewish settlements and started shelling Israeli communities. Israel responded by launching Operation Cast Lead.

Hamas followed the favorite terrorist principle of delivering attacks using civilians as human shields. Rights activists accused Israel of deliberately killing civilians and destroying civilian facilities, so the U.N. Human Rights Committee set up a commission to investigate these “atrocities.”

In the Peace Flotilla incident, militants also used peacekeepers as a cover to provoke a military clash. Now there is a new commission looking into Israeli crimes. Its findings are easy to predict.

Would my flotilla be shot?

Julia Latynina
The Moscow times

The goal of the activists was not to deliver aid to the people of Gaza but to rack up dead bodies. From the standpoint of the organizers, the ideal ending would have been if the Israeli navy had sunk the entire flotilla.

There is a very good reason why Israel is blockading Gaza. The territory is governed by Hamas, which has the professed goal of destroying Israel and is recognized by some Western governments as a terrorist organization.

In a world where terrorists destroy the World Trade Center and bomb the London metro—and where Hamas is dead-set on destroying Israel—it is amazing how many gullible people can be found who are ready to defend anyone.

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