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
The easing of the blockade reflects the success of a Hamas
propaganda campaign to depict the situation in Gaza as a humanitarian
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
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
Gazans could have decided to try to become a Hong Kong or a
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
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
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
This campaign is part of a larger plan designed to
neutralize the superior capacity of the West, and Israel in
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
Israel must make clear to the world that it refuses to accept
responsibility for the welfare of Gazan residents, particularly since
employing violence against the Jewish state.
The period leading up to the
actual border closure should be used to establish alternative routes of
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
However, the Egyptians are much more adept at dealing with the Gazans,
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
Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies. This article first
www.bitterlemons.org and is reprinted with permission.