JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel peacefully intercepted a seventh Gaza-bound ship and brought it to Ashdod port.
The Irish-owned ship named the Rachel Corrie, in memory of an American activist who was killed by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, was boarded Saturday by Israeli Navy forces 22 miles off the coast of Gaza. The ship was boarded from the sea, and not by helicopters as six flotilla ships were last week, when nine activists on a Turkish-owned ship were killed during clashes with Israeli Navy commandos.
This week's Gaza flotilla crisis has – no surprise here – renewed debate over Israel' blockade of Gaza, which, depending on which Israeli official is talking, is meant to choke off arms to Hamas, disillusion Gazans with the terror group's iron rule or win the release of Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier held by Hamas.
But this is the Middle East, so getting facts through the morass of disinformation, misinformation and propaganda isn't easy.
The world splits roughly between those who denounce Israel from a religious or ideological base, and those who denounce Israel because they are tired of defending Western civilization to which they are heir but aren’t sure why they should care (and those who bash Israel as a cover for their own anti-Semitism). The tired and the impatient might be slightly moved by better PR on Israel’s part, and OK, why not? But the others don’t care, and those are the ones Israel fights.
Israeli leaders, facing the predictable criticism in response to the predictable eruption of violence on the high seas when their forces confronted the Gaza flotilla, are busy explaining why they were justified in taking the action they took.
What they don't want to address, for obvious reasons: was it smart?
(JTA) -- The Vatican expressed "pain" and "great concern" at the deaths of activists on a convoy bringing aid to Gaza, while French leaders criticized the Israeli Navy's use of force in turning back the flotilla.
Chief Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Monday that the raid by Israeli Navy commandos, in which dozens of protesters were killed or injured, was "a very painful thing, in particular for the useless loss of human lives."
Sitting at the computer this Memorial day morning, it's striking how many people are responding authoritatively to the news of Israel's attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, even though at this point almost all the news is coming from sources with a strong vested interest in how it's spun.
The left and pro-Palestinian forces are portraying the death of at least ten activists on the highly publicized convoy as a “massacre,” describing the victims as innocent humanitarians interested only in providing relief to the besieged people of Gaza.