published Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Troublemakers' action, Israel's reaction

In 2010, pro-Palestinian activists boarded a group of boats bound for the Gaza Strip in violation of an Israeli blockade. Israel has to maintain the blockade to reduce the flow of weapons to the Gaza Strip. That's because Gaza is ruled by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas.

When the activists on the boats refused Israeli demands to turn around and instead continued their approach to Gaza, Israeli troops were forced to board the vessels.

Even as they were being lowered onto the decks, the Israeli troops were attacked by activists bearing clubs, knives and metal bars. In the ensuing battle, nine of the boats' lawbreaking passengers were killed.

It was a tragedy, but one that the activists had brought on themselves.

As is all too common, though, the "international community" condemned not the people who were violating the blockade but the nation of Israel for defending itself. The critics claimed that the violent confrontation somehow could have been avoided and that the Israeli troops were to blame for the violence, though even the U.N. -- which is generally hostile to Israel -- later admitted in a report that the blockade is legal and necessary.

So it was interesting to see how differently a more recent attempt to violate Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip played out.

Early this month, a group of activists on two "protest" boats made their way toward the Gaza Strip despite Israel's warnings to turn back. And, as they did last year, Israeli troops boarded the vessels.

But this time around, because the Israeli forces were not greeted with violence from the "protesters," they did not have to respond with force, much less deadly force. The boats were towed to an Israeli port, where the activists were handed over to immigration authorities for return to their homelands.

In other words, when the activists did not resort to violence, Israel was not forced to respond with violence.

Ironically, just days before the pro-Palestinian protesters headed for the Gaza Strip, Palestinian terrorists in that area had fired dozens of rockets into Israel.

It is regrettable that Israel has to take firm measures to defend its citizens, but too many of its neighbors have made it clear they have no interest in peacefully interacting with Israel.

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