Greeks bearing real gifts

Israel scored a major coup Friday when the Greek government barred the departure of vessels trying to hook up with a pro-Hamas flotilla seeking to breach Israel's naval blockade of Gaza

Immediately affected are a U.S. vessel with 50 pro-Hamas provocateurs, with the Obama moniker of The Audacity of Hope, and a Canadian ship.  The U.S. vessel tried to defy the Greek ban and took off, only to be halted by the Greek Coast guard and, after a no-nonsense encounter with Greek commandos, was forced to head back to Greece. Other vessels in Greek ports may suffer a similar fate. 

This development is the latest, but perhaps the most significant, event in a growing chain of mishaps which have bedeviled organizers of this would-be blockade-running flotilla.  Earlier, two vessels were found to have been sabotaged.  Also, under pressure from the Turkish government, a notorious Turkish vessel, the Mavi Marmara, bowed out, citing "technical difficulties."  This is the same ship which featured a bloody encounter with Israeli commandos last year when radical extremists among the passengers used knives, iron bars and other lethal weapons to attack the commandos, some of whom were seriously injured.  Fearing for their lives, the Israeli boarding party opened fire, killing nine Turkish assailants.

While the current flotilla was to have comprised 15 vessels, at last count, it's down to nine ships and, after the Greek ban, this number could decline further.

All in all, it's a great victory for Israel.  Even if a truncated flotilla is able to regroup and head for Gaza, its smaller number of vessels should make it easier for the Israeli Navy to keep it from reaching its destination. The New York Times goes a step further and describes the flotilla as dead in the water and not likely to sail toward Gaza. 

 All this didn't just happen by pure chance.  Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pulled out all of Israel's diplomatic and political stops to hobble the flotilla expedition.  Israeli embassies around the world were directed to make a maximum effort to get their host governments to denounce the flotilla.  Even UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged member nations not to participate in the flotilla.  President Obama, in full reelection mode, and Secretary of State Clinton also urged Americans not to participate and backed up their message with warnings that such participation might result in criminal proceedings since the flotilla's mission was to help a terrorist organization -- i.e. Hamas.

No coincidence also that Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou visited Israel last month -- the first Greek prime minister to do so in nearly 20 years.  Netanyahu had gone to great lengths to get him on Israel's side against the flotilla.

And Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, having won a decisive election victory recently, apparently felt he had sufficiently exhausted his anti-Israel fulminations to please his domestic base, and now assured of another term, saw to it that the Mavi Marmara wouldn't sail this time.

Mainstream media undoubtedly will deplore all these successful Israeli efforts and shed crocodile tears for those benighted anti-Israel activists stranded at sea or in Greek ports.  But their squawks will only confirm the scope of Israel's victory.  As one of the flotilla organizers was reported to have remarked:  "I didn't know the entire Mediterranean was owned by Israel."