Israel’s bloody, bungled takeover of a Gaza-bound Turkish aid vessel is complicating US-led Mideast peace efforts, deepening Israel’s international isolation and threatening to destroy the Jewish state’s ties with key regional ally Turkey.
And while Israel had hoped to defend its tight blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza with Monday’s high-seas raid, it instead appeared to be hastening the embargo’s demise, judging by initial international condemnation.
The pre-dawn commando operation, which killed nine pro-Palestinian activists, was also sure to strengthen Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers at the expense of US allies in the region, key among them Hamas’ main rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as Egypt and Jordan.
“The attack on a humanitarian mission ... will only further alienate the international community and isolate Israel while granting added legitimacy to Hamas’ claim to represent the plight of the Palestinian people,’’ said Scott Atran, an analyst at the University of Michigan.
The Mediterranean bloodshed dealt another blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to get peace talks back on track. It raised new questions about one of the pillars of US policy — that Hamas can be left unattended as Washington tries to broker a peace deal between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The raid tested US-Israeli ties that have not yet fully recovered from their most serious dispute in decades, triggered by Israeli construction plans in disputed east Jerusalem.
European diplomats demanded a swift end to the border closure, while US officials said statements would call for greater assistance to the people of Gaza. The fate of US-led indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians was uncertain.