Friday, October 14, 2011

no new dawn for gaza

my main question relates to #8: will israel now lift the blockade of gaza?

the blockade was originally imposed to prevent hamas from moving shalit from the gaza strip. that original reason is rarely mentioned because since it was imposed israel has justified the continued blockade on a different basis: preventing hamas from getting weapons that could be used against israel. that second reason hasn't worked. there's no evidence that hamas is facing any shortage of weapons. in fact, imposing such a large scale blockade on the populace, one that banned both certain foods and medicine, gave the regular people of gaza a huge incentive to resort to smuggling. that ultimately produced a well developed network of smugging tunnels to supply gaza with critical supplies, but can also be used to get in weapons notwithstanding the blockade. if anything, the broad extent of the blockade may have made it easier for hamas to get weapons, not harder, as it gave ordinary gazans (people who might not otherwise be inclined to help hamas) working to build smuggling tunnels they needed to survive.

also there is the suspected non-articulated reason for the blockade: the idea that israel is imposing economic hardship on the people of gaza as collective punishment for electing hamas and/or as an incentive for them to rise up and overthrow the hamas government. the former is a violation of international law, the latter is a policy that has failed as hamas is as entrenched in power as ever. in fact, the shalit deal probably strengthened hamas' hold.

so while the blockade was originally imposed for reason #1 (preventing shalit from being moved out of the territory), the rationale behind it has since shifted to reason #2 (preventing hamas from getting weapons), and possibly also reason #3 (starving the gazans to punish them and/or undermine hamas' rule). once shalit leaves the strip for egypt, reason #1 won't apply, but #2 and 3 will still be there. so i'm guessing there won't be any relief for gaza, even though the reasons behind #2 and 3 don't stand up to any scrutiny.