The Israeli attack on the international aid flotilla – killing nine and injuring dozens more – is not the first example of non-violent resistance by Palestinians and their supporters being met by force.
Israel has, in fact, at different times reacted with repression or even extreme violence to cultural and political manifestations of Palestinian identity.
But the flotilla carnage is the first direct and officially declared attack by the Israeli army on foreign activists – taking Israel’s reaction to solidarity activities to a new and unprecedented level.
Israeli claims that Turkish activists “resisted” its takeover of the ships do not change the reality that the Israeli army performed an illegal armed operation against activists who challenged the siege of Gaza – not with weapons, but by trying to deliver food and medical supplies to the besieged Palestinian population.
Israeli impunity has already been shown in the cases of Western peace activists Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndell who were killed while peacefully protesting against Israeli army actions against Palestinian citizens.
An act of fear
But Israel’s reaction was not merely an act of arrogance. It was also an act of fear and weakness in the face of a rising tide of Palestinian and international civic campaigns.
Israeli concerns run so deep that it has been pouring money and energy into a worldwide campaign to counter what it considers to be a drive “aimed at delegitimising” Israel.
But Israel’s own actions, such as the raid on the aid ship, only serve to reinforce the image of a state fully engaged in illegal actions in the occupied territories and beyond.