To paraphrase Kris Kristofferson in the light of yesterday’s dramatic destruction of the Gaza border fence with Egypt: a siege is just another word for nothin’ left to lose. In other words, the Gazans came to the end of their rope and decided that since they couldn’t break out towards Israel that Egypt was the next most likely alternative. They in effect told the world: “if you won’t help us we’re not going to die here a slow death; we’re going to take our fate in our hands.” Kol hakavod lahem. Now, the rest of the world should bow its head in shame. It did nothing while 1.5 million Gazans suffered for the sole reason that a few hundred of them are firing rockets at Israel. This collective punishment, outlawed under international law, is what passes for sensible policy in Israeli circles.
The NY Times story claims that Israel is satisfied with what happened because it will supposedly mean that Egypt will take this problem off their hands:
A senior Israeli official…said the development might solve a problem.
“This may be a blessing in disguise,” he said…“If it continues like this, it will ease tremendously the pressure on Israel on the humanitarian level. The humanitarian organizations will get off our backs. There won’t be any shortages. So that is a good thing. We don’t care if people buy food in Egypt…
“Second — there’s a notion that Barak believes in — and I think Sharon did too — of getting out of Gaza, and throwing away the keys…”
Another Israeli official said of the border: “…Some people in the Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and prime minister’s office are very happy with this. They are saying, ‘At last, the disengagement is beginning to work.’ ”
Beginning to work? How so? Do they really believe that the Qassams will stop merely because Gazans can now buy bread in Egypt? If Israel really believes this and isn’t merely making lemonade from overripe lemons, they’re more foolish than I thought. Those enormous holes in the border fence also poked enormous holes in the vaunted international siege of Gaza of which Israel was the prime instigator.
This Hamas statement too seems a calculated attempt to throw Israeli settlement policy (“creating facts on the ground” as Sharon used to call it) back in Israel’s face:
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, refused in an interview to take direct responsibility for ordering the Egyptian border opened, but said: “We are creating facts. We have to try to change the situation, and now we await the results.”
With the crossings to Israel closed and minimal goods coming in, Mr. Zahar said: “Rafah is our only lung. If Rafah remains shut, it means our acceptance to be strangled, our acceptance to die. We warned the Egyptians yesterday that people are hungry and dying.” Sometimes, he acknowledged, it was necessary to create a crisis to settle another one.
In other words, if you refuse to accept the reality imposed on you, then create a new one by sheer pluck. That’s what happened yesterday.
And for anyone parachuting into this blog from the moon who has never read me before: none of the above should be read to imply approval of the attacks against Sderot, which I abhor. I’d just as soon see the Islamic Jihad and Hamas rocketeers in the dock at the Hague along with Barak and all those who planned this stupid siege.