Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Israel's image in tatters after Gaza
ship bloodbath

Protesters prepare to burn a representation of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Tuesday, June 1, 2010.
Protesters prepare to burn a representation of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Tuesday, June 1, 2010.
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to approach and board as they intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to protest against US funding of Israel in Lafayette Park June 1, 2010 in Washington, DC
Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to protest against U.S. funding of Israel in Lafayette Park June 1, 2010 in Washington, DC
Peter Venner was seized by Israeli authorities
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Irish activist Shane Dillon arrives back at Dublin Airport after he was deported from Israel following a commando raid on the Gaza aid flotilla
Ibrahim Musaji's mother Fatima (left) and sister is Farhara are interviewed at their home in Gloucester, after Ibrahim was believed to be amongst those that were taking part in the aid flotilla attacked by Israelis
Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire standing beside the Cargo ship the MV Rachel Corrie 12/05/10
Pakistani protesters who try to reach the US Consulate, confront police officers during a rally denouncing Israel's raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip, Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold a Turkish national flag and shout anti-Israel slogans during a protest in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Tuesday, June, 1, 2010
Egyptian activists clash with riot police during a protest against the Israeli naval operation storming a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists to the blockaded Gaza Strip
A protester hangs on a lamp outside Belfast City Hall
Gerry Adams with protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Deputy First Minister Minister Martin McGuinness who joined several hundred people in Derry's Guild Hall Square in protest at the raid on the aid flotilla which was travelling to Gaza
Some of the several hundred people in Derry's Guild Hall Square in protest at the raid on the aid flotilla which was travelling to Gaza
A protester hangs on a lamp outside Belfasat City Hall
Protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Protesters outside Belfast City Hall
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Actor Adrian Dunbar (right) joins protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
Protestors gather outside the Israeli Embassy in Dublin
A large crowd of protesters stand at the entrance to Kensington Palace Green and the Israeli Embassy
An Hasidic Jew, a group who traditionally do not agree with Israel's action against Palestine, reads scripture during a campaign in Whitehall, London
Pro-Palestianian campaigners in Whitehall, London
Turkish women shout anti-Israeli slogans during a protest in front of the UN house in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to intercept several boats
Protesters burn a Star of David during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
A border policeman looks on as Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
Israeli Navy soldier stands behind a machine gun aboard a missile ship while Israeli Navy soldiers intercept several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip
An Israeli soldier carries a blood-stained stretcher back to an Israeli army helicopter
View from aboard an Israeli Naval vessel
Israeli Navy soldiers approaches a Navy missile ship
Israeli medics rush an injured man for treatment at the Rambam hospital in the northern Israeli city of Haifa
A Turkish man seen next to a sign in Turkish that reads "down with Israel" and "Free Gaza" as Pro-Palestinian Turks nearby shout slogans during a protest against Israel near the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul
Protesters burn a Star of David during a demonstration outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli and foreign left-wing protestors hold placards against Israeli policies during a protest against Israeli naval commandos raid on a flotilla
Protesters clash with police officers outside the Israeli embassy in Athens, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli police detain a masked Arab Israeli protester during clashes in the northern Arab Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, Monday, May 31, 2010
A protester cries during a demonstration at Taksim square in Istanbul, Monday, May 31, 2010
Turkish and international activists seen on the deck of a Turkish ship shortly before Israeli forces boarded the vessel carrying humanitarian aid bound for the blockaded Gaza strip, late Sunday, May 30, 2010
Israeli police detain a masked Arab Israeli protester, center, as an Israeli journalist tries to interview him, during clashes in the northern Arab Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, Monday, May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israeli left-wing protesters demonstrate against Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip on May 31, 2010
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis attend a demonstration in support of Israel following a deadly raid by the Israel military on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza
Israelis wearing snorkels attend a demonstration in support of Israel
Israeli Navy Intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza
Israeli Navy soldiers aboard a boat as the Israeli Navy intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010
Israeli Navy soldiers prepare to disembark a missile ship as the Israeli Navy intercepts peace boats bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010
This video image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show an injured passenger on a Turkish ship, part of an aid convoy heading to the Gaza Strip
Image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show Israeli soldiers aboard a military vessel in international waters off the Gaza
This video image released by the Turkish Aid group IHH Monday May 31, 2010 purports to show Israeli soldiers aiming a gun on the deck of a Turkish ship, part of an aid convoy heading to the Gaza Strip
Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporters hold Turkish flags as they ride on their motorcycles during a protest in Gaza City, Monday, May 31, 2010.
Palestinians ride boats in Gaza waters as a flotilla of aid ships leaves for the blockaded territory (AP)
Israeli Navy sailors embark on the I.N.S. Hanit in order to stop a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver aid to Gaza in spite of Israel's blockade May 30, 2010 in Haifa, Israel
Israeli Navy sailors embark on a warship in order to stop a flotilla of activists attempting to deliver aid to Gaza in spite of Israel's blockade May 30, 2010 in Haifa, Israel
Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate a day before the expected arrival of a flotilla of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists carrying 10,000 tons of supplies into the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Friday May 28, 2010
Palestinian members of the Hamas naval police and civilian defense officers ride a boat at Gaza port during a display of their preparations ahead of the expected arrival of a flotilla of hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists trying to sail into the Gaza Strip, in Gaza city, Friday, May 28

Ashgod is a city used to drama. The blaring roar of sirens warning of incoming rockets from Gaza is a familiar sound to its inhabitants.





So when from high on Yona Hill overlooking the port of Ashdod the gathered media watched as the Israeli navy escorted the ill-fated Gaza-bound flotilla of ships into the harbour, few of the locals were overly excited.



Defence against terrorism is a fact of life in this southern Israeli city.



When the assortment of self-styled 'peaceniks' were led from the vessels, with the port closed off for security, a smattering of pro-Israel Jews and pro-Palestinian protesters tried to shout each other down from afar but soon dispersed.



The only change to the vibrant city as you walk along its wide boulevards lined with gleaming white Mediterranean-style apartments, stroll in its many parks and walk down along its marina is the prevalence of Israeli flags emblazoned in Hebrew with "Way to go IDF" in support for its army's action onboard the Mavi Marmara.



"My immediate reaction was that the IDF made a big mistake," said Ashdod resident Oren Rudnik.



"They should have released the movies and pictures immediately to show the world what really happened on board the vessel. It took them so long to release the video where you can clearly see the Israeli soldiers being hit with lead pipes that the world already had made up its mind."



Mr Rudnik is a relatively typical Israeli male. He served in the army and now works in the country's rapidly growing hi-tech sector. Like most of his fellow countrymen he believes "the operation was the right thing to do".





"What most upset me is the Palestinians or Arabs spinning what happened," he said.



"They are telling the world that we carried out a 'massacre'. But you can clearly see how the soldiers were lynched and jumped on the moment they landed on the ship."



While arguments rage about the planning behind the operation and alternative methods that could have been deployed, few disagree about the soldiers' actions. However, it is Israel's failure in the public relations battle that constantly tops the debate here.



While the drama was unfolding, a live broadcast of the event was being broadcast from the ships and aired on the Al Jazeera network accompanied with the voices of Hamas spokespeople repeatedly condemning Israel. While the activists were carrying out a lynch job not only on the IDF but the world's media, citizens here believe Israel fell silent.



"Every time I look at the foreign media I'm getting upset," said Mr Rudnik. "There is no perspective in the coverage. Most of the time what you are seeing on the news is wrong and I am not saying that because I am an Israeli. The biggest problem is we don't know how to show things to the world. Our biggest problem is our own public relations."



Commentators highlight the fact it took Israel more than six hours after the incident started to release an official response.



"There are plenty of situations when we as a nation are apart but this incident has us very united. I've talked to my work colleagues and friends and we all feel the same.



"From an army point of view we should do the same if another ship attempts to enter Gaza," Mr Rudnik said.



Walking the streets of Ashdod, it is startling to think this is the site of the tomb of the sea-faring prophet Jonah, who was swallowed by a whale.



But as life here returns to normal, it appears its inhabitants are not intent on letting the prospect of their small country being devoured by world opinion change their army's stance when it comes to protecting them from the ever looming threat of Hamas and Gaza.



Source Irish Independent

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