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Let’s open Gaza

Posted By Obadiah Shoher On April 3, 2012 @ 12:40 pm In Judea, Samaria, & Gaza | 1 Comment

The Israeli blockade of Gaza is unreasonable and illegal. If Gaza is an independent entity, we cannot blockade it short of war. There is an argument in international jurisprudence whether neutral countries can be blockaded during war. Perhaps Israel can blockade Gaza as an otherwise neutral outpost of Syria and Iran. Legal niceties aside, a war or credible threat of one is required to enforce a blockade. If Gaza is less than a state, we must either turn it over to the UN to establish trusteeship or administer it directly.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza absent a war or UNSC peacemaking resolution presumes that the Strip is under Israeli control—exactly the point which Israel otherwise tries to reject in order to abandon her responsibility for ensuring the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Gaza. Declaring Gaza to be merely a hostile territory, as the Israeli government did, does not legally justify the blockade.

Why blockade Gaza at all? Three different reasons were advanced, none of them valid. First, Israel tried to put pressure on Gazans to get rid of Hamas in favor of the PLO. Second, Israel claimed the blockade is a means to force Hamas to release Shalit. Third, the blockade was meant to cut weapons supplies to Gaza. Tunnels made that last goal futile, and it is also illegal: a country generally cannot prevent another country from rearming itself.

What problem do we have with Hamas obtaining some weapons? Syria has 1,200 mid-range missiles, all of them aimed at Israeli population centers. Hezbollah has 60,000 rockets, similarly targeting Israel. Israel is also the primary target of Egyptian and Iranian missiles. Rockets in Gaza won’t add to the problem.

The problem is deterrence. Syria and Lebanon do not use their missiles against Israel because they fear retaliation. Hamas does not fear it because its territory is blockaded, ergo it is not an independent state, ergo Israel is responsible for Gazan civilians. It would be much easier for Israel to abandon the blockade, give Hamas all trappings of sovereignty—and pave the way for retaliation.
Why bother Hamas with arduous imports and lose profits ourselves? We can offer to supply Hamas with short-range rockets. But there is a string attached: should rockets, ours or Iranian, be used against us, we will bomb Gazan cities into the Bronze Age.

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