So how would any other navy enforce a naval blockade? First, a clear warning in English: Turn back or we shall fire. Next, A shot across the bow – a last warning to show the seriousness of our intentions. Finally, firing at the vessel’s propeller, in a bid to paralyze the ship’s sailing and steering capabilities.
Only then, and only after allowing the ship to be tossed from side to side under the sun, the time would come for taking over the vessel using massive force: Clearing away the decks using water hoses, splashing oil on its windows, ramming into the vessel, and finally staging the takeover.
This is how any self-respecting Navy would conduct itself. However, there is only one problem here: The utilization of force and fire, which is precisely what Barak wanted to avoid. He feared the images, and therefore ordered the takeover to get underway at early morning hours, much before the ships crossed into Gaza’s territorial waters.
What did you expect, Barak?
The approach chosen by Barak is weak and conveys a sense of a weakness. This was the case in previous military clashes, for example, during the period of time ahead of Operation Cast Lead. Barak threatened to seal off the Gaza Crossings, but opened them a day later.
Israeli troops are perceived as weak, and when they encounter real distress the immediate response is the utilization of violence that makes us look very bad.
Yet what looks like Israeli brutality and stupidity has strategic implications: It creates a situation whereby Israel would not be able to use its force effectively.