Was Israel right to bust the Gaza flotilla?
Since Israel forcibly intercepted ships heading to Gaza with “humanitarian” aid, the choir of condemnation has shrieked in unison — from the UK, and most of the European continent, across the Atlantic to the bowels of the U.N. But putting aside questions on the laws governing international waters, was Israel morally right to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza? Yes–I’d argue it was fully within its rights to enforce the naval blockade on Gaza.
To judge Israel’s actions, it is crucial to recognize the broader context: the Gaza strip is under the control of Hamas, a totalitarian Islamist group, that is at war with Israel. Allowing arms, money, and other forms of aid to enter Hamas-controlled Gaza means allowing a sworn enemy to be sustained and strengthened to fight on. And a state facing that situation is entitled to thwart attempts to aid its enemy.
P.S. A word on the blockade itself. My view is that Israel is entitled to seal Gaza off from the world. Is that the most efficient means of thwarting, let alone minimizing, the threat from Hamas? I doubt it — in part because exceptions are often made for so-called humanitarian supplies. Should Israel act assertively to remove the Islamist group from power and dismantle its infrastructure in the Palestinian territories? That’s a point I’ve argued in other places.