Media react to Israel's gunboat raid

The world's media have reacted to the incident where Israeli naval commandos stormed a flotilla of ships carrying aid and hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, killing 10.

The high number of deaths has led to a inevitable diplomatic crisis for Israel.

So how is it being reported? Here's a quick scan around the global media:

Writing for The BBC, Paul Reynolds notes the attack will set back relations with one important neighbour in particular:

"Perhaps the most significant damage will have been done to Israel's relations with Turkey. It was not so long ago that the two countries shared a certain strategic vision of opposing Islamist extremism in the region.

Since the Gaza invasion in 2007, Turkey has turned hostile to Israel. This episode, involving a ship with so many Turks on board, will only exacerbate that hostility. Turkey has recalled its ambassador. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Israeli action 'state terrorism'.

Israel's standing with the European Union has also taken another knock. The EU foreign policy representative, Catherine Ashton, called for an inquiry and for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted."

The Guardian's Middle East editor Ian Black called the affair "a disastrous own goal for Israel" - and echoed the significance of the fallout with Turkey:

"It will highlight the continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip in the most dramatic possible way and is bound to increase pressure to ease it - even if not to engage directly with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that controls the area.

"Israel may be most concerned by the furious reaction from Turkey, whose once good relations with the Jewish state have soured since the Gaza war."

He noted that wider Arab anger is likely to be focused tomorrow at an emergency meeting of the Arab League.

For the Arab world perspective, Gregg Carlstrom in Al Jazeera notes the punitive nature of Israel's policy on the supplies it allows into Gaza:

"Navi Pillay, the United Nations' human rights chief, called the blockade devastating in an August 2009 report. Pillay said it constituted collective punishment, illegal under international law.

'Luxury goods' - things like chocolate - are prohibited altogether. But much of what is banned is hardly luxurious. Medical goods are in short supply.

Fuel, too, is heavily restricted, with many Gaza residents facing hours of power cuts each day.

All of this creates a scenario in which, according to Amnesty International's latest annual report, Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants are 'cut off... from the rest of the world'.

Amnesty concluded that four out of five Gazans - 80 per cent of the population - depend on external aid to survive."

Right wing Fox News emphasised Israel's statement to the U.N. by deputy ambassador Daniel Carmon, justifying his nation's actions.

To read it, one could conclude it was the flotilla who were the aggressors in this incident, not the Israeli commandoes:

"What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs and fire from weapons stolen from attack soldiers to attack soldiers who board a ship in accordance with international law?," he asked.

"They are not peace activists; They are not messengers of good will. They cynically use a humanitarian platform to send a message of hate and to implement violence," he added.

Carmon said the flotilla turned down repeated requests from Israeli troops to stand down for inspection in accordance with international laws. He characterised the incident on the ship as a 'lynch' on Israeli soldiers.

The flotilla was organised by a group with a 'radical anti-Western orientation', that supports terrorist organizations like Hamas and al Qaeda, Carmon said."

- compiled by NZHERALD STAFF

- NZ Herald

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