With Monday’s brazen act of piracy, Israel dealt a blow to the legitimacy of its own struggle. The killing of activists aboard the captured ships sent Israel’s way of defending its security, which it was already imperative to return within the bounds of international law, hurtling into lawlessness.
Israel claims the activists had links with extremist groups and that some attacked Israeli soldiers with knives and sticks (and in some accounts the odd light firearm). Even if true, this would not justify the illegal capture of civilian ships carryinghumanitarian aid in international waters, let alone the use of deadly force.
Outrageous as this behaviour was, the true outrage is the illegal blockade of Gaza that it enforced. Since the January 2009 Gaza war, which exposed Israel’s determination to destroy Hamas’s capabilities regardless of the cost to innocent Palestinians, Israel and Egypt have colluded to prevent the enclave’s reconstruction. According to the United Nations, three-quarters of the damage has not been repaired and 60 per cent of homes do not have enough food.
Israel has always known the importance of its conduct being judged legal by the world’s leading powers. Those powers – in the body of the Quartet and the UN Security Council – must now make clear it has gone too far