Israeli Prime Minister Cancels White House Meeting

From AP:

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s prime minister has called off a planned visit to the White House to deal with a crisis over a botched naval raid that killed 10 pro-Palestinian activists.

Netanyahu, who is in Canada, was set to travel to Washington to meet with President Barack Obama on Tuesday. But his office says he decided to return home early after Monday’s commando raid.

The commandos intercepted a flotilla of activists trying to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip. The deadly crackdown has drawn widespread international condemnations.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday, killing at least 10 passengers in a predawn raid that set off worldwide condemnation and a diplomatic crisis.

Israel said its commandos were attacked by knives, clubs and live fire from two pistols wrested from soldiers after they rappelled from a helicopter to board one of the vessels.

Dozens of activists and at least 10 Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody confrontation in international waters.

Reaction was swift and harsh, with a massive protest breaking out in Turkey, Israel’s longtime Muslim ally, which unofficially supported the mission. Ankara announced it would recall its ambassador and call off military exercises with the Jewish state.

The bloody showdown came at a sensitive time in Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to meet Tuesday with President Barack Obama to discuss the next round in U.S.-led indirect negotiations. From Toronto, Netanyahu spoke by telephone with top Israeli officials and expressed his “full backing” for the military, according to a statement from the army.

The White House said in a written statement that the United States “deeply regrets” the loss of life and injuries and was working to understand the circumstances surrounding this “tragedy.”

The activists were headed to Gaza on a mission meant to draw attention to the blockade, which Israel and Egypt imposed after the militant Hamas group seized the territory of 1.5 million Palestinians in 2007.

There were conflicting accounts of what happened early Monday, with activists claiming the Israelis fired first and Israel insisting its forces fired in self defense. Communications to the ships were cut off shortly after the raid began…

[continues at AP]

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  • tonyviner

    I know both sides are pretty ignorant a lot of the time, but aren't the Israelis supposed to be the good guys in this ordeal. I mean, America would not ally themselves with a murderous regime, right?

  • 5by5

    Among the things destroyed by their bombing campaign in Gaza was the main hospital, which by the blockade (which under international law is a declaration of war – that's why Kennedy called the navy ships off Cuba a “quarantine”, for example) the Israelis are preventing from being rebuilt. Additionally, they simply aren't letting enough food into the area to feed the people. And with no trade, the Palestinians cannot become self-supporting.

    I sympathize with Israel's position being surrounded by people who clearly don't like them, but what I fail to see is how starving a million+ people makes them any new friends.

    Also, it's a little too irony-rich for me — the idea that Jews who escaped the ghettos set up by the Nazis, would turn around and create ghettos for the Palestinians. I worry that they are transferring deep-seated (and justified) fears into projective behavior. Becoming that which they loathe.

    This is why the Chinese say, “When setting out on revenge, dig two graves. One for your enemy, and one for yourself.”

    Because if you become so obsessed with killing your enemy, you stand a really good chance of also killing what is best in yourself in the process. At some point, somebody simply has to say, I will not lash out any more.

  • Synapse

    Depends what your comparison for good guy is. Compare to North Korea which just sank a south korea boat for crossing it’s waters, killed 50 some and no one cared. Israel warned the activists to not break their blockade, they tried anyway. Israel boarded 5 out of 6 boats without incident (wielding paintball guns as their PRIMARY defense), but boat #6 was not filled with normal peace activists that just give up when you point a fake gun at them, but a vicious mob that beat the crap out of the soldiers as they landed. If a similar thing happened to China, I guarantee you they would have just blown up every boat (as they have often mowed down Free Tibet type protests). For the shit they deal with, it’s amazing Israel doesn’t just look at it’s neighbors like Jordan who, when faced with a PLO uprising, just murdered everyone they could.

  • Synapse

    Depends what your comparison for good guy is. Compare to North Korea which just sank a south korea boat for crossing it's waters, killed 50 some and no one cared. Israel warned the activists to not break their blockade, they tried anyway. Israel boarded 5 out of 6 boats without incident (wielding paintball guns as their PRIMARY defense), but boat #6 was not filled with normal peace activists that just give up when you point a fake gun at them, but a vicious mob that beat the crap out of the soldiers as they landed. If a similar thing happened to China, I guarantee you they would have just blown up every boat (as they have often mowed down Free Tibet type protests). For the shit they deal with, it's amazing Israel doesn't just look at it's neighbors like Jordan who, when faced with a PLO uprising, just murdered everyone they could.

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