How is it that all of Israel’s borders are quiet and stable, while only the sea rages with various flotillas? The answer is odd and amazing. On all of Israel’s borders we have Arab regimes that find stability important for their very existence, and therefore they maintain quiet borders. In this respect, it doesn’t matter if we’re dealing with borders of peace or not – Jordan and Egypt have the same interest as Lebanon (including Hezbollah,) Syria, or Hamas. Only the sea remains breached; once upon a time we thought it’s the other way around.
Well, the pariahs of the world and Israel haters found a new patent: Embarrass Israel via the sea. After all, there is no Arab regime that would block these ships en route to Israel. If they are allowed to pass through, they shall declare “victory”; and if their people are killed, it’s even a greater “victory.” That way, they gain Erdogan-style popularity among the masses, and maybe even manage to harm Israel a little more.
And now we have Iran, which is ostracized by most of the world like North Korea, yet wishes to join the maritime celebration. However, with Iran, the situation is easier than it is vis-à-vis other states. Only recently, a decision on tough international sanctions against Iran was taken by a large Security Council majority. The time has come for Israel to utilize these sanctions as well as international legitimacy. Why fight the UN all the time when we can use it?
Clause 15 of the new sanctions decision rules that Iran is now subjected to a new regime of supervision in respect to suspicious cargo. According to the new decision, the states of the world must examine any Iranian vessel in their territory suspected of carrying banned cargo, including conventional weapons or sensitive nuclear and missile components. The states are also required to cooperate on such monitoring in international waters.
Set up international force
And so, Iranian ships en route to Gaza are certainly suspected of smuggling weapons. Israel must demand that states on the Iranian route inspect the vessels or that Israel itself examine the ships in international waters and report its findings (or alternately, inspect the ship in its own waters, without reporting.) This is our duty according to the sanctions, not only our right. Nobody would be able to object to what the Security Council itself demands. And so, Israeli action will be granted a strong dimension of legitimacy.
The Iranians already announced that they will not agree to have their ships stopped for inspection, and warned that if one of their ships will be held up, they will embark on their own “searches” on board foreign ships in the Persian Gulf. In other words, the ships are Iran’s soft underbelly. Why not hit them in their soft underbelly, while they’re thinking they’ll do the same to Israel? They think the ships will be utilized versus Israel – but we can utilize them against Tehran.
However, this is clearly a solution that is only applicable to Iranian ships; a more comprehensive international solution is needed. As there is no Arab regime that would safeguard Israel’s western border, an international maritime force is a must, and would be easy to arrange. The force can set up a maritime shuttle from a secured port, where all cargo is inspected, ensuring that all ships reach Gaza after full examination. This shuttle will only apply to permitted cargo, as people will enter and exit Gaza via Egypt alone. Cairo has already fully opened its border to Gaza, so the siege no longer exists on its side.