Turkish government condemns Israeli raid

Map of Gaza

The embattled Gaza Strip is central to a litany of struggle for decades. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

On Monday, May 31, a flotilla of ships entered the coastal blockade zone around Gaza, supposedly in order to deliver aid to people living there. The flotilla was stopped by an Israeli raid, and Israeli troops were dropped via helicopter onto the deck of the lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara. The Israeli troops clashed with people on board, and nine people aboard the ship were killed in the melee; no Israeli troops died.  The vessel is Turkish, and some of those killed in the raid are believed to be Turkish as well. The Turkish government has condemned the Israeli government for its actions, among others.

Israeli raid met with hostility

Though the presumed goal was to deliver humanitarian aid to the heavily blockaded Gaza region, it is believed that the activists that clashed with the Israeli raid personnel were pro-Palestinian activists, though they were carrying supplies and maybe some fast cash for poverty relief.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Israeli commandos were greeted by angry protesters that were armed with guns and other weapons once they dropped on board.  The Gaza Strip, effectively controlled by Hamas, is blockaded by both Israeli and Egyptian forces.

Turkish Government blasts Israel

Though Turkey-Israel relations aren’t nearly as hostile as Israeli relations with other states, the incident has frozen communication between the two states to near absolute zero. In the wake of the incident, the Turkish ambassador was recalled, and the actions of the Israeli military were blasted by the Turkish government, including calls for a U.N. investigation. The blockade of Gaza was lifted by Egyptian authorities for aid shipments to be delivered and for refugees to flee if so desired.

Disposition of aid flotilla in doubt

It isn’t entirely known whether the aid flotilla was genuinely on a humanitarian mission to deliver supplies and assistance to the needy, or if it was a stunt by pro-Palestinian groups to aid Hamas and Hezbollah. According to the Christian Science Monitor, few Israelis believe the aid flotilla was genuinely humanitarian in nature.  In either case, it’s an international relations dilemma that will need to be resolved quickly if peace in the Middle East is to maintained.