Gaza, how doth Israel violate international law and the moral obligations of nations in punishing thee? Let me count the ways.
Is this any way to conduct a national policy? You bet it isn’t. How is shutting down the power station supplying Gaza civilians with their electricity a legitimate policy responding to the Qassam attacks? How is shutting down the pumps that bring water to these same civilians going to prevent rockets from landing in Sderot? How does preventing Gazans from being able to take a dump in their own bathrooms increase the security of Israelis under barrage? How does shutting down hospitals treating dialysis patients and premature babies do anything for peace?
Of course it doesn’t. Olmert and Barak know this. So they personify the definition of the mad man: someone who persists in doing something repetitively when it has failed the first time, in the hope that it will somehow succeed the next. Olmert and his government may be prepared to commit crimes against humanity in Gaza, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world should stand by silently. The Europeans and God help us even Condi Rice need to raise their voices to stop this madness. We remember how long it took for her to signal a halt to the mayhem in Lebanon after it was clear that Israel could not win. How many people died until she summoned the courage or sanity to say “Enough?” What will it take to bring her to her senses once again regarding Gaza?
Shlomo Gazit, former IDF general and expert analyst of the I-P conflict, writes in Maariv of the need to take a new tack (thanks to Sol Salbe for translating from Hebrew). Gazit words are not new. He’s said something like this before. But they take on new urgency amid the current insanity:
…The combination of the military measures and the siege that we are imposing on the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip [is] simply not delivering the goods. The barrage of Qassam rockets on Sderot…is steadily intensifying. The captains of our ship of state…are aware that we cannot go on like this and that a different policy is required.
The Hamas leadership openly proclaims its willingness to enter into a long-term hudna, or truce. Israel says it is also willing to do so. So how come we are in no way achieving it? The stumbling block is on the Israeli side – Israel is unwilling to talk to Hamas.
Gazit proposes negotiating with Hamas to stop the Qassam firing either directly or through an intermediary such as Egypt. The goal would be a mutual ceasefire on both sides. Gazit’s way is the only way. Well, there is always the current path. But this way lies madness. Unless the world wants to see Israel committing national hara kiri in front of its eyes and taking the Gazans along with them, they have an imperative duty to speak out and end the madness.
The Associated Press just reported that tens of thousands of Gazans poured across the Egyptian border after masked militants destroyed most of the border fence outside Rafah. Why did they do it?
Masked gunmen destroyed about two-thirds of the seven-mile-long metal wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the town of Rafah and tens of thousands of Palestinians poured across the border to buy supplies made scarce by an Israeli blockade of the impoverished territory…
An off-duty Hamas security officer who identified himself as Abdel Rahman, 29, said this was his first time out of Gaza. ”I can smell the freedom,” he said. ”We need no border after today.”
Why did they do it? To buy bread for their children. To buy cooking oil to feed their families; medicine for their sick. To buy a cigarette. Unfortunately those tens of thousands of Gazans can’t pour out of Gaza to swamp downtown Ashkelon. If they could, Israelis would realize much quicker that they need to do something to end the suffering.
A day or so ago the IAF destroyed an empty Hamas ministry building in Gaza. This was somehow supposed to be a message to Hamas that would convince them to bend to Israel’s will. The former’s intelligence was so faulty that they neglected to account for the fact that there was a wedding hall next door and killed a mother and child in the process.
The claim by Israeli spokespeople that it will not let its blockade cause a humanitarian crisis is laughable in a macabre sort of way. How would they know what it’s like to be in Gaza now and whether or not their punishments constitute a humanitarian crisis? Are they without electricity in their Israeli homes? Without water? Have they visited any Gazans lately to examine their living conditions?
It’s all sheer madness.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.