Israeli image takes a hit due to incident

Saba Anees

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On May 31, the Israeli Defense Forces troops shocked and angered people around the world when they stormed and attacked demonstrators on a humanitarian flotilla of six ships coming from Turkey toward the Gaza Strip. Only 75 miles from Israeli-claimed lands, the ships were attacked on international waters, a direct violation of international law.

Political leaders, activists, and even everyday citizens condemned Israel’s actions, calling for an immediate halt to diplomatic relations with the country. Protesters everywhere from France to Greece took action against Israel by demanding investigations and suspending military exercises, according to the UK Guardian. Turkey, possibly Israel’s most significant Muslim ally, has removed its Israeli ambassador.

Even a week after the raids, news and media outlets continue reporting on speculation that the humanitarians are linked to Hamas or conducting investigation after investigation in order to find which party is ultimately responsible. While many are sidetracked by the ongoing debates, they neglect to realize that there are still 1.5 million residents in the 25-mile long Gaza Strip suffering from a three-year naval blockade imposed by the Israeli government to discourage residents from supporting Hamas.

Today, over 80 percent of people living in Gaza require humanitarian efforts to survive on a daily basis. Although they have access to food and medical aid, construction for homes is severely lacking. Until today, the siege has been responsible for gasoline shortages, frequent power blackouts, agricultural decline, poor sewage treatment and water shortages.

Movements like these wish to promote international awareness in order to one day establish Palestine’s rights and allow people the freedom to enter and leave without prosecution. As a result of the raids on the ships, Egypt helped open the borders after three years, only to witness just how dire the situation for Palestinians in Gaza really was.

The Free Gaza Movement is one of the major organizations to commandeer the flotilla. After the attacks, Israel stated they would have been allowed to deliver their materials had they gone through “proper channels,” according to an article by Iara Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle. However, these “channels” are nothing but checkpoints, which have already denied access to the World Health Organization and the United Nations food aid. If internationally renowned organizations like these cannot get through to Gazans, then the only action left to take is removing the Israeli blockade and siege of the Gaza Strip. Not only has Israel’s blunder cost their position in the international relations stadium and their peace efforts with Palestine and the Arab world, but it continues to hurt more and more Palestinian citizens every day.

Unless major international players like the United States (joined by the rest of its fellow members on the UN Security Council) can step up and condemn Israel for their unacceptable behavior, instead of sympathizing and expressing “deep regret” for the attacks, the siege on Palestinians will never see an end.

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