Israel’s Gaza Fiasco

CAIRO — The Israeli policy of bringing the besieged population in the fenced-off Gaza Strip to their knees or turn them against Hamas collapsed with the falling of the border between the sealed off territory and Egypt.

"The experiment blew up in their faces," Shlomo Avineri, a political scientist at Hebrew University, told The New York Times on Sunday, January 27.

"The whole theory of putting pressure on a population to put pressure on their government doesn’t work. It didn’t work in Lebanon in 2006, and it didn’t work now."

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered a lockdown of the coastal strip on January 17, denying access to aid and fuel on which the 1.7 million Gaza population survives.

As the Strip ran out of food supplies and plunged into darkness, Gazans blew up large holes in the border wall with Egypt, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to leave the "open prison" in Gaza to re-supply from neighboring Egypt.

Egypt has decided to continue to allow Palestinians into its territory to stock up on basic supplies.

The tide of humans pouring over the frontier for days has now become a vast convoy of carts, cars and lorries. They carry generators, goats, diesel, huge piles of carrots and cabbages.

But most of all they drive home the message that Israel’s long-running blockade has failed.

Victory for Hamas

Experts say that the Israeli crippling sanctions and blockade have failed to detract from Hamas’s popularity in the impoverished territory.

"Barak made a mistake in thinking it would turn the population against Hamas; it did the reverse," Avineri maintains.

Hamas has earned a degree of respect for action even from its opponents in Gaza, further consolidating its control over the Strip, according to the Times.

It said the latest blockade gave Hamas a kind of "moral pretext" to break through the Egyptian border.

The blockade has also brought Israel under fire from the European Union and the United Nations as "collective punishment" of a civilian population.

"Whether it’s against international law or not, the fact is that the policy was ineffective," said the Israeli political scientist.

He added that Israel’s larger error, after pulling out of Gaza in 2005, was to view it almost entirely as a security problem.

"The whole relationship with Egypt became subsumed under questions about smuggling," Avineri said.

"Why should the border be sealed between two Arab populations?" he asked. "Israel should support some regulated border regime."

On Saturday night, some 2,000 Israelis, including MPs and left-wing activists, gathered outside the Erez crossing on the Gaza Strip border to protest Israel’s shutdown.

They had two trucks loaded with foodstuffs — including oil, water, flower, chocolate and sugar – they wanted to send through to Gazans.

Veteran left-wing activist Uri Avnery said the goal was "to tell the Israeli public and the entire world we will not be part of this crime.

"We are ashamed of this siege."

(Source: + Newspapers)

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