Israel's nighttime operation to intercept the "Gaza Flotilla" last week, which left nine activists dead and a number of Israeli commandoes seriously wounded, has provoked an international furor, calling into question not only Israel's blockade of Gaza but also once again what some experts perceive as its penchant for disproportionate and overly aggressive tactics. This week, National Journal would like its national security experts to weigh in on the implications of the flotilla tragedy, both for Israel and in terms of U.S.-Israeli relations as both nations look to forestall Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.
Giving its timing and high-risk nature, was the operation a strategic blunder on Israel's part, as some experts have charged? Conversely, given that the purpose of the flotilla was clearly to break a blockade aimed at keeping rockets from falling into the hands of Hamas terrorists, and ultimately raining down on Israeli cities, did Israel have any other viable choice?
What impact, if any, will the operation have on U.S. efforts to further isolate Iran with another round of U.N. sanctions? Will the incident likely have a lasting negative effect on U.S. and Israeli relations with Turkey, and if so, how significant is that setback? Finally, given that U.S. officials insist they warned Israel to use "caution and restraint" in dealing with the flotilla, what if anything does this say about how much influence the U.S. really has over Israel as it surely contemplates the military option against Iran's nuclear facilities?