Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally pulled the red card, in the middle of international criticism following an attack on a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza on Monday, which resulted in the death of at least nine people and the wounding of an additional thirty. After claiming that it was Israel’s right to attack the flotilla out of self-defense and that the flotilla “was a boat of hatred,” he deflects. And what better way to distract people’s attention than by bringing up Iran?
In a move that has become a usual recurrence, Netanyahu pointed his fingers straight at Iran, saying that if Israel had not attacked the flotilla, an Iranian regime would be established in Gaza.
“The rockets and missiles that Iran has smuggled into Gaza are now likely to hit areas surrounding Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and some of those are already in Gaza. Therefore, it is our duty and our responsibility according to the international law and according to the logic, common sense, to prevent by air, sea and land smuggling of weapons into Gaza… This is a destructive scenario, and this a very immediate threat to Israel. I’m telling you and I’m telling my friends in the countries that criticize us that an Iranian port in the Mediterranean” will be a threat.
Netanyahu forgets that the attacked flotilla was not carrying rockets or missiles, however, but humanitarian aid. While I see the common sense in preventing smuggling of weapons, I do not see the common sense in killing in order to prevent the smuggling of school supplies. And despite Netanyahu’s claims, this flotilla was completely unrelated to Iran. It was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza with goods such as school supplies, building materials, and electricity generators. (This is because despite Israel’s claims of already providing Gaza with its humanitarian needs, according to the UN, Gaza receives only about one quarter of the supplies it used to receive before the increased blockade in 2007.)
But the sad truth remains that it is always convenient to bring up Iran, the demonized, to detract attention from inconvenient problems.
Also, it works.
Rather than condemning the attack, the US has carefully avoided treading too heavily in response to this incident. A 19-year old American was shot by Israeli soldiers, and still, all US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about the attack was “I think the situation from our perspective is very difficult and requires careful, thoughtful responses from all concerned.”
Now, I am no apologist for the regime, but when it comes to US policy towards Iran and Israel, the great double standard gets me every time. As Kouroush Ziabari said, what if Iran had carried out the Gaza carnage?
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Simply replace the two names and then read the news as reported by CNN: “The Free Gaza Movement, one of the organizers of the aid, said that Iranian commandos dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of one of the ships early Monday and immediately opened fire on unarmed civilians.”