#62: The Gaza “Blockade”
(Updated January 15, 2009)
Israel began to isolate the Gaza Strip in 2006 after the terrorist organization, Hamas, obtained control of the area. In recent months, in response to barrages of rocketfire from Gaza into Israel, sanctions and security around the area have been increased. Gaza cannot be blockaded by Israel, as suggested by the Palestinians and the media, because Egypt controls one of the borders.
Although Israel has tolerated many months of rocket attacks on their cities, international outcry from the United Nations as well as worldwide media has focused almost entirely on the Palestinian plight in Gaza, which they assume to be a result of Israel’s actions.
Despite the terror onslaught, Israel sends thousands of liters of fuel into Gaza every day, and electricity from Israeli power sources is not being witheld. Interestingly, Palestinian Authority sources maintain that there is not a shortage of fuel in Gaza. They accuse Hamas of stealing thousands of liters of fuel from local Gazan companies and then telling the media that there is no fuel left. Fatah members also claim that Hamas is lying about the fuel shortage “crisis” for propagandistic reasons. On November 24, 2008, Israel opened the crossings to the Gaza Strip and allowed through humanitarian supplies, including medicine, food and fuel.
Additionally, the Ministry maintains that commercial crossings between Gaza and Israel have been kept open - especially since the June 19, 2008, “state of calm” which allowed for a 50% increase of material goods into Gaza. The materials that are allowed into the terrority include medicine and medical supplies, food, some fuel and building materials. Gazans in need of medical assistance in Israel have continued to be allowed in. Even after the “state of calm” was broken by Hamas, those Gazans seeking medical treatment in Israel were still allowed to do so although they were chaperoned during the process. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs posesses daily delivery statements from Israel into Gaza since the June 19 agreement. These published statistics prove that the media and the High Commissioner for Human Rights are incorrect in reporting that the Israeli government has been preventing humanitarian supplies into Gaza.
Indeed, Hamas is not only witholding supplies from the Palestinians in Gaza but the organization is also spending all of its resources on weapons of terror instead of material goods that a government is expected to provide for its citizens.
The relative peace in Israel for the last several months was broken in early November 2008 when Hamas again began to fire rockets into Israel in response to Israel's raid of an illegal militant tunnel from Gaza. Israel has maintained a “calm” front and has not retaliated to these rocket attacks with military measures. Instead, Israel increased security around the Gaza border on Tuesday which prompted criticism from the United Nations.
Later on November 18, 2008, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for a stop to the Israel-enforced closure of its border with Gaza. Pillay declared that the situation in Gaza was one that impeded upon the humanitarian rights of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. The suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza, she claimed, was the fault of the Israeli government. Only in Pillay's last sentence did she mention Hamas' rocket attacks on Israel - the sole reason for the “blockade.”
The Israeli representative to the United Nations, Aharon Leshno-Yaar and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took strong offense at the High Commissioner's statement and her inaccurate assumptions. Pillay's blatant oversight of Palestinian violence towards Israel was especially outrageous because over 170 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel in the past ten days alone.
UN critics question why Israel did not open the Gaza border during the nearly six-month ceasefire and allow for supplies to be delivered to the Palestinians. The UN's assumption that Israel has not permitted the entrance of material goods into Gaza, however, is simply incorrect and has been formed out of Hamas-led media ploys.
Media critics and the United Nations have consistently ignored the terrorist attacks on Israel in favor of a focus on Palestinian suffering. As always, they seem to dismiss the basic cause-and-effect connection between Hamas-led violence and the plight of the Palestinians. Were Hamas and, for that matter, the PA willing to maintain a legitimate ceasefire, Israel would feel secure enough to end the restrictions on Gaza.