Rememeber Gaza

Posted: December 15th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: In the News | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

Regardless the identity of the next PM, it is clear that the Gaza problem will wait for him (or her). Nobody will take on a military operation against Hamas, which might turn into a version of the second Lebanon war, so close to the election.

What awaits to be seen, is whether Ehud Olmert will use his last days in office to sign a deal for the release of POW Gilad Shalit. I hope he does. He’s not up for re-election, so he can pay the price. The government will surly approve any deal to that cause. There will be a few votes against from right-wing ministers, but such ministers will most likely make sure their votes aren’t decisive. Nobody wants this issue on their conscience (or political image), it’s just a question of the political price of releasing several hundreds Hamas members from prison.

However, the bigger problem is the Hamas government. And while I don’t oppose negotiation with anyone as a rule – including Hamas – the government is correct in feeling that legitimatizing the Hamas rule in Gaza will hurt the PLO government in the West Bank.

Regardless, I do think that Israelis should be more aware of the consequences of the siege on Gaza. It’s true that at the moment Hamas is our enemy, but even in war not everything is allowed. The siege has made Gaza the world’s largest prison, with some 1.5 million inmates. Preventing food, medicine and fuel from them is a war crime. I don’t oppose military action against the Palestinians in Gaza, but the legitimacy of putting the pressure on the civilian population is questionable, to say the least.

It also should be said that Israel has tried this idea – making the Population suffer in order to provoke a political change – several times in the past, both in Lebanon and with the Palestinians. It has never worked.

At the moment, most Israelis don’t care about this issue. The ones who do, say the reports from Gaza are “an exaggeration”. I don’t know why, since there aren’t too many reports from there. But this excellent article from Haaretz’s Amira Hass – probably the most important reporter in the region right now – shows how bad things are, and how complicated solving them will be.

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