The shooting by Israeli special forces of civilians on ships heading towards Gaza this week raises for me one very critical question: even on Israel’s version of events, why was killing necessary? If special forces are going to board a ship in order to seize control, shouldn’t they be wearing riot gear and armed with non-lethal crowd control alternatives? Tasers, O/C Spray, ASP batons, full protective riot gear, that sort of thing?
The (heavily edited) footage released by the IDF does seem to show the commandos being set upon when they landed – but so what? That’s akin to saying that police at protests that get violent should, as a first resort, just get out the guns and start shooting. They should be properly protected in gear that pretty much neutralises anything from blows with sticks to molotovs (it’s what our police forces use), and then they should be trained to subdue aggressors nonlethally.
And let’s be clear here – the timing of the assault was entirely at Israel’s discretion. They picked the time and the method of interception. They had time to prepare. It was in their hands, and this was the result.
If they wanted to test old alliances and inspire new opponents, well – mission accomplished.
UPDATE: Good news for Israel: it gets to run the inquiry into its actions.