Off the fence
WHENEVER I hear the diluted Australian accent of Mark Regev on the radio or television I always ask myself, what have Israel done now? As you probably know Mark Regev is the Israeli government’s chief spokesperson and is wheeled out every time Israel is under fire from the International media. Whether it is about bulldozing Palestinian homes or dropping phosphorous on civilians, Mark will appear on BBC, Sky, RTE or whatever other station to defend Israel’s actions.
This week, Mark has been working overtime since last Monday following the shooting dead by Israeli commando’s of aid workers following their storming of the Turkish aid-ship, Mavi Marimara. The ship was in International waters heading for Gaza but Israel still say it was their right to stop the ship, even if it meant shooting nine people dead.
As soon as the shooting took place, the Israel government were in spin mood defending their actions despite the International condemnation. The Israeli governments claim that the naval blockade is to stop Hamas from getting their hands on materials capable of launching attacks on Israel, and have no problem transporting aid if the ship landed at the Israel port of Ashdod. The Irish vessel, ‘The Rachel Corrie’, carrying passengers such as Irish Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairéad Maguire, and the United Nations’ former deputy secretary general, Denis Halliday, could hardly be described as a ‘boat of hate’ but it faced similar treatment from Israel. The likelihood of the humanitarian aid on the Rachel Corrie reaching Gaza was always very slim.
Despite the International condemnation of the killings and the blockade of Gaza, Israel will continue to defend their position and claim self defence. With Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister and former commando, Ehud Barak as its Minister for Defence, a change in their position is not likely to alter any time soon.
They have even risked the wrath of allies by using forged passports of friendly countries to plot the murder of a Hamas leader in Dubai. One of the reasons Israel feels they can behave in such a way is because of the backing they receive from the United States. They refused to call for an end to the blockade of Gaza but in recent days Hillary Clinton has described it as ‘unsustainable’.
Such comments are welcome but they won’t force Israel to end the blockade but continued International pressure including a boycott of Israel goods might. During the apartheid era of South Africa, their government thought they could ride out the storm but an international boycott forced their hand. The Irish Government has made it known their displeasure at what is happening in Gaza but will they follow those words with action?