There was plenty of hand-wringing after IDF commandos stopped the Mavi Mamara from running Israel’s blockade of Gaza, though not on this blog if I recall correctly. Israel’s action, which brought international condemnation, was said to have injured Israel’s standing and provided a boast to Hamas.
But according to this analysis by David Pollack in the Jerusalem Post, the attempt at blockade-busting has, if anything, backfired on Hamas. Moreover, Israel’s blockade remains in place, which was Israel’s purpose in stopping the Mavi Mamara. Israel has expanded the list of items it will allow into Gaza, though.
There has been talk about more blockade-busting, but so far no one has been foolish enough to attempt it. Last month, Iran backed away from such an attempt, and now a LIbyan-backed ship carrying cargo for the Gaza Strip has docked in Egypt rather than attempting to reach Gaza.
This was a signifcant setback for Hamas. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had implored the boat’s captain and crew to continue sailing for Gaza, while calling for more pro-Palestinian “freedom flotillas.” “The sea and land convoys must continue,” said Haniyeh. “We hope we can depend on Islamic nations to help us lift the blockade.”
He could not. Nor could he depend on the international community. Unlike with the Mavi Marmara, this time European diplomats, knowing that Israel would not back down, worked diligently to divert the ship. The Jerusalem Post reports that “statements against bringing cargo into Gaza by sea, made by the US State Department, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and Quartet envoy Tony Blair, were only the public manifestations of feverish diplomatic efforts that took place behind the scenes.”
It’s also quite possible that the captain and crew were willing to be talked out of their dangerous mission. The captain apparently is Cuban, and presumably non-Muslim. He may well have thought he had little to gain from martyrdom on the high seas.
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