On Saturday, Israel stopped yet another aid ship headed for the Gaza strip, according to Palestinian activists. The Rachel Corrie was not boarded. However, Israel warned that it could be boarded if it did not halt.
The advance of this aid flotilla is already having an impact on the discourse on Israel and Palestine.
For long, Israel has enjoyed a special place in international diplomacy. Now that unique position may become more difficult to sustain.
The attack on the Freedom Flotilla on May 31 in international waters is likely to cost Israel the friendship of its only ally in the West Asian region, Turkey. Nine people died in the attack. All were Turks, and one was an American citizen.
The Turkish parliament has passed a declaration condemning the action. The Turkish ruling party and opposition that have been bitterly opposed to each other appear united in their condemnation of Israel. The country has already started consultations with the heads of its armed forces and intelligence on a review of its bilateral relations. The Turkish ambassador to Israel has been recalled. The Israeli position is that Gaza is still a war zone because it is administered by the ‘radical Islamist’ Hamas group. The Gaza strip has been facing a severe blockade since summer 2007, when Hamas — which rejects the right of the Israeli state to exist — formed an elected government in the area. The blockade had started in a milder form in 2006, after an Israeli soldier was taken captive in Gaza.
The Freedom Flotilla took shape as a response to this blockade. It was an international human rights
initiative. The violent attack on this group raises questions on how Israel, which cannot accept a Gaza strip run by Hamas, could possibly tolerate an independent Palestinian state.
The writer is Reader in Political Science at Aligarh Muslim University