“All assistance and aid for the Gaza Strip should be stopped,” National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio on Sunday. “I am stopping everything until I understand what is happening over there. We simply have to increase the isolation of Gaza from Judea and Samaria; close them off completely. The only opening that should remain open is toward Rafah.”
–Binyamin Ben Eliezer, Infrastructure minister, Haaretz, June 17th
“We will take into consideration all humanitarian needs in Gaza. We will not intervene, we will not move forces…”
–Ehud Olmert, Ynetnews, June 17th
Hat tip to Middle East Progress for noting these two contradictory Israeli government responses to the Gaza crisis. One can attribute this to a momentary confusion among government bureaucrats as to what Israel’s short vs. long-term strategy should be vis a vis Gaza. But make no mistake, Israel will do the absolute minimum, if that, to ensure Gazans don’t drop like flies in the street from malnutrition and other diseases. The long-term Israeli approach to Gaza will be to let them rot. As soon as the international media spotlight is off Gaza, the Israeli spigot will dry up to a trickle, if that.
But I predict that if this is what Israel pursues that Gaza will become the rotting sore of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Imagine the teeming refugee camps of Lebanon, where Al Qaeda has been reported to have made significant advances in recruiting budding young terrorists and where a standoff has been going on for weeks now between the army and Fatah al Islam. Then transfer this resentment to a Gaza shorn of all hope and freedom. If we think that Qassams are bad, I hate to think what new tactics might be in store for Israel and the world. At least Hamas has kept the conflict confined to Israel. Can we confidently predict that an Al Qaeda-influenced Gaza-based cell would do the same? New attacks on Egypt might be just a start. From there, who knows?
And please don’t make the mistake of believing that I relish this prospect, far from it. But it seems almost ineluctably guaranteed to happen given the absolute bankruptcy of Israeli and U.S. policy choices.