Gaza analysis: These were not 'peace protesters'

It’s depressing, but not in the least bit surprising, that the ‘condemn first, ask questions later (if at all)’ attitude towards Israel is as universal as ever.

To judge from the media coverage of what happened last night, you’d think that the IDF had attacked a defenceless group of peace activists almost for the sake of it, shooting indiscriminately and behaving like barbarians.

The full details of what happened are still to emerge. But what we do know is that the Israeli authorities first of all invited the convoy the offload its cargo in port and have it checked for banned goods.

When that was rejected, the IDF gave warnings that they should not proceed.

That, too, was ignored.

The soldiers then alighted on the ships, and this is where it is unclear who acted first. The IDF say they were attacked, those on the ship the reverse. But the more facts emerge, the more it seems – to put it mildly – that the so-called peace activists were hardly pacific souls taken unawares by the IDF.

Because these were not harmless peaceniks but hard core anti-Israel activists. On their departure from Cyprus they were filmed singing intifada songs and cheering the slaughter of the Jews.  And as for the groups sailing, the most prominent, the Turkish ‘charity’ IHH, is inextricably linked with Hamas, and is a supporter of radical jihad groups.

The loss of life is always to be condemned and regretted. But these people were no more harmless, unarmed peace protesters than the IDF, and the Israelis appear to have been if anything too naïve in treating them as such, rather than on boarding the ships and tear gassing the lot. As the IDF soldiers landed, they were met with the reality behind the misleading label of ‘peace protestors’ – violent extremism.

But would we expect the BBC and other media here to reflect the full picture? Plus ca change.

Last updated: 10:42am, June 2 2010