It is more important to be smart, than it is to be right. Unfortunately, in the last 24 hours Israel has acted righteously, but not smartly. Last night in the update I warned that today's actions, intercepting the ships heading to Gaza was going to be a public relations disaster. I had no idea how big this disaster was going to be. I had no idea how poor the IDF intelliegence information on the intentions of those on the boat could be, nor, as a result, how unprepared the member of one of Israel's most elite units would be to deal to counter the attacks they encountered. To make matters worse, the total unpreparedness of the IDF for the public relations aspects of the incident was breathtaking. For the first four hours of the incident the IDF did not officially release any information. As I write this piece, over 12 hours after event, the IDF has finally released videos that at least make it clear the Israelis were forced to use live fire.
The videos just released show members of Israel's most elite commandos being lowered onto the deck of the ship and immediately being attacked by groups of 6 or seven men carrying stick and metal bars beating them. The soldiers who landed were only armed with side arms, and one is seen almost being beaten to death. The second soldier manages to fire his revolver at the feet of his attacker and the third jumps off the ship.
Unfortunately, however compelling the video clips are, and how ever much they prove this was not a peace-loving group of people, simply seeking to deliver aid, the fact that 9 of them were killed is what most of the world will remember. Israel is in for a difficult few days. This is a self-imposed wound. Whether it was a good idea or bad idea to stop the ship, it is clear Israel was not prepared for what it encountered. One of the Israeli news commentators said this morning that the government is fighting like "the Polish cavalry against the German Panzers". Israel is fighting a public relations battle in the world. Being right is not enough... we need to be smart at the same time.