Monday, May 31, 2010

Israel's attack of a flotilla in international waters (4 x UPDATED)

5th UPDATE: 12:56 p.m. EDT: An Israeli ambassador says his government received information that the organizers of the aid flotilla had ties to al-Qaeda. This report does not indicate whether the ambassador elaborated on his comments.

4th UPDATE: 12:45 p.m. EDT: The Israeli Defense Forces has released video of its raid on the flotilla. Most of the video is a bit grainy and from a helicopter-like view.

3rd UPDATE: 12:35 p.m. EDT: This from Politico.com:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled his visit to the White House in the aftermath of the Israeli military's action against a flotilla seeking access to Gaza, the AP reports. White House spokesman Bill Burton said in advance of Netanyahu's decision that the White House was currently "to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy."

Probably a wise decision. Mr. Netanyahu is at this point better off answering questions from the domestic media and the few international reporters stationed in Israel than he would be being bombarded by the White House press corps, not to mention bringing President Obama into the discussion.

2nd UPDATE: 9:15 a.m. EDT: Israel attempting to jam all communications, control message flow from attack area.

1st UPDATE: 9:10 a.m.: Additional video from the Israeli attack has appeared on BBC, but I believe this is Al-Jazeera video.

The White House also has made its first public comments, with a spokesman saying the Obama administration "deeply regrets" the loss of life.

And there is this "flash" from Reuters: U.N. Security Council to meet Monday afternoon over Gaza flotilla attack, no time set yet - U.N. diplomats

ORIGINAL POST: The first set of news reports, including this one from The Globe and Mail, suggest that Israel has a public-relations nightmare on its hands.

The Israeli military boarded a flotilla carrying aid destined for Gaza in international waters. That's the tipping point to this story, in my opinion.

Al-Jazeera has what I believe is the only journalist on board with the flotilla, and he filed a report soon after the assault began.

The political fallout has begun and it might continue. Consider this excerpt from the same report highlighted at the beginning of this paragraph:

The violent takeover also threatened to deal yet another blow to Israel's international image, already tarnished by war crimes accusations in Gaza and its blockade of the impoverished Palestinian territory.

Various foreign governments already have spoken out against the attack.

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