My father has a piece up at the Oxford University Press blog arguing that Israel was justified in its actions regarding the flotilla to Gaza. I'm not convinced by the argument. The situation seems complicated especially in that it is not clear that all the items that Israel is not letting are items that could be used to make weapons. The Israeli blockade has stopped hostilities, but it goes beyond that, effectively preventing the maintenance and rebuilding of Gaza's sewage treatment and power plants (See this summary). If the blockade was narrowly tailored to save Israeli lives it would be more morally defensible.
It seems that given the large amount of shouting about this issue, that this is not a bad opportunity to discuss some unambiguous facts about the current situation.
First, it is clear that the blockade has worked to protect Israeli lives. Rocket attacks from Gaza have become nearly non-existent after the blockade.
Second, it is clear that the motivation for the blockade is not primarily out of racial animosity for the Palestinians, although that may play some part. The evidence for this is that the West Bank, controlled by the moderate Fatah faction, is not under any similar restrictions.
Third, it is not clear, and likely will not become clear for the foreseeable future, who started the fighting on the Mavi Mamara. Eyewitness accounts are conflicting. Note that who started the fighting also has zero connection to whether or not the blockade is morally or legally justifiable.
Fourth, Hamas is refusing to accept the flotilla aid until demands are met. If one believes that this aid is vital, then this is a clear example of Hamas willing to let the people of Gaza suffer to suit its own political aims. However, it is important to keep in mind that this despicable behavior by Hamas is also not relevant to whether the blockade is morally or legally justifiable.
In any event, my father's piece makes a pretty strong argument, so go and read.
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