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Aid convoy attack has weakened Israel, say experts

While Israel’s deadly assault on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla proved tragic in terms of civilian loss, it could mark a “turning point” for those living in the war-ravaged region, experts said today.

As public outrage mounted over the attack, the international community called on Israel to explain its use of “disproportionate force” against the humanitarian workers.

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The wide-scale backlash is now expected to intensify pressure on the country to adhere to international law.

Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics, said the events of the past 24 hours had left Israel in a “much weaker position” than it found itself in only two days ago.

The country will now have to listen to voices from around the world calling for an end to the “siege on Gaza”, he said.

“I think the tragedy and massacre will basically serve as a catalyst to mobilise public opinion in the international community.

“The killing of those activists, sad though it is, could easily serve as a framework to really bring about solidarity on the international stage and force Israel to abide by international law.”

And he expressed hope that the situation in the region could be improved, insisting it would now be “hard” for Israel to maintain the “status quo” on the Gaza border.

“What we have now is a dramatically different situation - Israel has come under scrutiny.

“More and more voices have joined in this international campaign to end the brutal siege of Gaza,” he said.

“Israel is today in a much more fragile position than it was before the killing of the human rights activists.

“This has mobilised the international community in a way that no other action has done.”

Ahron Bregman, a specialist in the Arab-Israeli conflict at King’s College London, said the country’s actions constituted a “huge victory” for Hamas.

But he stressed that the latest assault could bring about positive change.

“Israel is becoming more and more isolated,” he said.

“I think it will find it very difficult to continue and maintain the siege on Gaza.

“The world is becoming very, very impatient with Israel, and Israel is playing into the hands of the world.”

He said there was “growing pressure” on the country to “behave as you would expect a nation to behave in an international arena”.

This is likely to intensify once the personal stories of those caught up in the attacks begin to emerge.

Prof Gerges added: “This is the beginning of a major, major campaign.

“It is a turning point in the way that the international community deals with Israel.”

But he said it may be some time before visible improvement is achieved in the region.

“It could take a year or so but the truth is that Israel has come under considerable pressure from some of its supporters and its allies,” he said.

“Israel will have to listen.”

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