The Lebanese blogosphere reacted sharply to news that its southern neighbour had violently stormed the Turkish aid convoy, the Mavi Marmara.
As noted by the above caricature of popular blogger, Maya Zankoul, the Lebanese are largely outraged not only by Israel's actions, but international media attempts to justify it.
Protesters took to the streets of Beirut to express their anger over the Israeli attack, and sympathies with the Palestinian and Turkish peoples.
Blogger Lebanese Voices slammed Israel's disregard for international law and Tel Aviv's PR campaign to demonise the humanitarian aid mission:
…israeli authorities have the liberty to ban, allow and confiscate any aid that is sent to Gaza at will, and announce that they are providing Gaza citizens with all the aid and supplies they need and therefore the freedom flotilla flight was an unnecessary stunt?!
40 Different nationalities aboard the ships, from Turkey, Greece and Ireland headed to Gaza, to the Gaza port (which israel says is under palestinian authority control) to provide these citizens with toys for their children, wheel chairs for the thousands cripples by israel’s continuous raids, medicine for those few survivors, flour, and other Survival needs!
Out of these 40 nationalities are a parade of countries: Irish, Australian, French, South African, Greek, American, German, Turkish, besides arab nationals, and many more. Are all these brave souls mistaken in their aid call?! if they had solid facts that the aid needed was reaching Gaza they wouldn’t have worked night and day for months to collect the necessary aid, put their lives at risk to do what seems like a true moral call?
Lebanese Voices made the point that Gazan waters are not in fact Israeli waters, as Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and illegally maintains control over Gaza's waters. Israel had, thus, no right to intercept the aid flotilla:
Yet Israeli Authorities gave itself the right to violate International Law and Protocol and attack the Flotilla flight while amidst International Waters (clear violation of international law) and Israeli MP declares that it has that right (because its above such laws) because the ships were heading to their waters. But the Flotilla wasn’t! it was heading into a harbor in Gaza, allegedly free from Israeli control.
The Fleet was welcomed with Israeli’s Defense Forces gunfire aiming right at their passengers and helicopters that rained squads to ship boards, and yet found it excusable to call the defense of these passengers as “terrorism” with sticks!
The Fleets were Searched thoroughly at their departure points, no weapons existed on them, and no weapons were found when they were dragged to Gaza’s shore other than those the IDF held to their heads! (Iraq war much?!) Members of the ship were detained and investigated immediately on arrival!
Rami Zurayk of Land and People went to the heart of the issue by highlighting the core dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For Zurayk, the Palestinians have the right to enter their lands dispossessed from them through “colonisation and apartheid”:
The problem is Zionism and the usurpation of land and the replacement of a people by another people: colonialization and apartheid. Whether in international water or out, Palestinians have the rights to enter their country. The problem is not that the attack happened in international waters, the problem is Israel and the fact that it is allowed to attack. What if it was in Palestinian waters? Would it be OK?
Zurayk also doubts whether an international outcry would have surfaced were the dead not foreigners, but Palestinians struggling to liberate their lands:
I have also received emails from everywhere calling for demonstrations of solidarity. Of course this is excellent and it is a show of support for the cause and an indication of the waning of Israeli influence. But I believe this would not have happened if this was not a humanitarian convoy, and if there were no foreigners among the dead and wounded. If this were Palestinians fighting to liberate Gaza, people would have probably blamed them for their own death.
I am starting to worry that the struggle will get locked into a Ghandian logic, and this has always been a demand of the West and of the local “lovers of life-on our knees” who repeatedly ask for armed resistance to be dismantled. This is how we become a charity case rather than a liberation movement. But for now, lets keep the pressure on the Zionists up to lift the siege on Gaza.
A sense of impunity makes Israel think that it can kill peace activists in international waters and get away with it. This must change.10:05 PM May 31st via web
Meanwhile, political blogger Qifa Nabki cautioned against war drumming by the Syrian and Lebanese governments in response to the attack. Non-violent resistance appears to be working, according to Qifa Nabki:
Syria has called for an emergency meeting of the Arab League, and both Bashar al-Assad and [Lebanese Prime Minister] Saad al-Hariri have warned that the flotilla killings could lead to a regional war. Maybe this is a naive reading, but it strikes me that beating the war drums is the wrong move. Instead of threatening to launch another intifada, why not actually launch an aid flotilla that is ten times the size of the one that was assaulted? The humanitarian non-violent strategy has clearly proved to be the winning one, so why not press it?
In a further analysis of the situation, Qifa Nabki discusses the political ramifications for Turkey, and slams the weakness of Arab states:
Soft power among leaderless Arabs? Make mine a double. Egypt’s decision to open theborder, at least temporarily, only highlights embarrassing complicity in the blockade to begin with. And the position of the other Arab powers – silence, or cheerleading while Turkey pounds podiums in the Security Council – is little better. By one account, the ship in question was Istanbul municipal scrap, sold to an Islamist NGO and flagged to the Comoros. That it could be the vessel of Arab diplomatic ambition is the saddest, and most apt, measure of the those states’ ability to make any case other than the one for their disarray.
Franco-Lebanese blogger, Frenchy, in condemning the Israeli act as piracy, fears that any violent response from Lebanon might lead to an Israeli onslaught on the country:
On peut également craindre que ces actes de piraterie poussent une nouvelle fois à une flambée de violence comme durant les dernières offensives israéliennes contre la Bande de Gaza. A chaque fois, malheureusement que cette bande s’enflammait, certains pensaient faire diversion au Liban même, preuve en ait les derniers tirs de Katioucha contre le Nord d’Israël en décembre 2008 et janvier 2009 par le FPLP-CG. Gageons que les autorités israéliennes actuelles seraient tentés d’utiliser de tels tirs – si cela se produit – comme une diversion face à leurs crimes en provoquant une guerre contre le Liban. Même en désaccord avec la lutte palestinienne contre Israël depuis le Liban, on ne peut qu’être solidaire face à ce que les libanais ont également subis lors du conflit de 2006. Après tout, Gaza subit depuis 2006, le blocus que le Liban n’a subit que durant 34 jours seulement
One can also fear that these acts of piracy push once again to an outbreak of violence, such as the recent Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip. Each time, unfortunately, that violence erupts in the Strip, some think of creating a diversion from Lebanon, as proven by the sporadic firing of Katyusha rockets on northern Israel in December 2008 and January 2009 by the PFLP-GC. We wage that the current Israeli authorities would be tempted to use such force – if this happens – as a diversion from their crimes by provoking a war on Lebanon. Even in disagreement with the Palestinian struggle against Israel from Lebanese territory, one can only express solidarity with what the Lebanese equally suffered during the 2006 conflict. After all, Gaza has been undergoing since 2006 the blockade that Lebanon suffered for only 34 days.
Each violent action Israel undertakes creates fears of renewed violence throughout the region. Such fears are not as strongly felt as in Lebanon, often the target of Israeli military action.