Bowing to misguided international pressure, particularly from the West, the government lifted nearly three years of restrictions on civilian goods allowed into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The restrictions had been imposed in reaction to the repeated launching of missiles into the Negev. This decision hardly makes any strategic sense because it helps Hamas, an ally of revolutionary Islamist Iran. Both are anti-Western forces focused on destroying the Jewish state.

The easing of the blockade reflects the success of a Hamas propaganda campaign to depict the situation in Gaza as a humanitarian disaster.

While Gaza is not prospering, the standard of living there is generally higher than in Egypt – a little-noticed fact. The ability of this Goebbels-type propaganda to entrench a tremendous lie in the consciousness of the international community testifies to the continued vulnerability of naive Westerners to sophisticated psychological warfare, and to the complicity of much of the Western press in this enterprise.

The step taken by the government also significantly helps Hamas strengthen its grip on Gazans, as it controls the distribution of any goods entering its territory. Moreover, even if Hamas allows for a general improvement in the daily lives of all Gazans, this reduces the incentive for regime change, which should be part of the Western goal. Strengthening this radical theological regime in the eastern Mediterranean defies Western rational thinking.

The entrenchment of Hamas rule in Gaza amplifies the schism in Palestinian society and strengthens Hamas’s influence in the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. It is also a slap in the face of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who demanded the blockade’s continuation. Hamas’s achievement here further undermines whatever ability – albeit a very limited one – the Palestinian national movement had to move toward compromise with the Jewish state.

THE INTERNATIONAL pressure that led to the decision also indicates a gross misunderstanding of Israel’s predicament and its legitimate right of self-defense. Israel totally disengaged from Gaza in 2005, hoping that the Gazans would focus their energy on state-building and achieving prosperity.

Gazans could have decided to try to become a Hong Kong or a Singapore.

Yet Hamas turned Gaza into a political entity engaged in waging war on the Jewish state by launching thousands of missiles with the specific intention of harming civilians.

Ironically, Hamas demands that Israel allow a supply of goods into the Strip.

It is legally and morally outrageous to claim Israel is responsible for the Gazans, who are no longer under occupation and who have supported the rule of Hamas in great numbers.

After the 2005 withdrawal, Israel’s responsibilities – stemming from previously being an occupying power – ended.

Since Gaza is an enemy country, it does not deserve any special treatment from Israel beyond its legitimate steps taken in pursuit of selfdefense.

Israel, like any other sovereign state, has every right to close its border with a belligerent neighbor.

Moreover, it has no obligation to provide water, electricity, fuel or access to food and/or medical supplies to its enemies. Why on earth should it aid those that want to eradicate it? The bewildering and hypocritical international response to Israel’s attempts to prevent war material from reaching Gaza, as manifested in the criticism surrounding the Gaza flotilla incident, should be of great concern to Jerusalem. Again, we see the successful application of propaganda whose objective is to deny Israel its legitimate right of selfdefense.

This campaign is part of a larger plan designed to neutralize the superior capacity of the West, and Israel in particular.

Instead of easing the blockade, the government should have announced its intention to exercise its sovereign right to close the border with Gaza and halt the transfer of any goods to its enemy within several months.

Israel must make clear to the world that it refuses to accept responsibility for the welfare of Gazan residents, particularly since they are employing violence against the Jewish state.

The period leading up to the actual border closure should be used to establish alternative routes of supply via Egypt, which also borders Gaza.

Egypt is unlikely to welcome such a development because it prefers to keep the Gaza hot potato in Israel’s lap. However, the Egyptians are much more adept at dealing with the Gazans, whom they ruled in the past.

The Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere are not only Israel’s problem, but constitute a regional headache.

The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. This article first appeared on www.bitterlemons.org and is reprinted with permission.

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