Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Exception That Proves The Rule:
Israel allows clothes, shoes into Gaza for first time since Hamas takeover

According to a story in today's Haaretz:
Israel allowed a shipment of clothes and shoes to be delivered to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday for the first time in its almost three-year-old blockade of the Hamas-controlled enclave.
And this small exception just proves how cruel and illegal the blockade is.

Israel bans the shipment of most goods to Gaza on the grounds that Hamas could use them for military purposes. But its list of controlled goods includes items that have no apparent military value, such as children's crayons and books, shoes and clothing, cement, plumbing supplies, and nails, etc. - virtually everything except food and medicine (and even these are allowed in only limited amounts.)

Gaza has been getting most of its consumer goods via tunnels from neighbouring Egypt operated by smugglers who add on hefty surcharges. But of course, these are the very same tunnels that Israel bombs periodically - claiming they are used to smuggle weapons.

Israel claims that it imposed the blockade to prevent Hamas from attaining weapons and other material to be used in attacking Israel. But the blockade itself is now itself a causus belli as far as Hamas is concerned. And they have international law on their side. Remember that Israel attacked first in the Six Day War, because Egypt threatened to blockade the Straights of Tiran and stop ships headed for the Israeli port of Eilat. (It was only a threat and never applied. Israel, despite some voices to the contrary, attacked Egypt before any ship arrived at Tiran and actually tested Egyptian resolve.)

In contrast to Egypt's threatened partial blockade, Israel has maintained a near total blockade of Gaza for three years now. More than a year after the destruction of the Gaza War, virtually nothing has been rebuilt, since the cement and other materials needed to rebuild are not available. Malnutrition is on the rise in Gaza. Unemployment stands at approx 80% !!!

The real reason that Israel originally imposed such a broad and total blockade was to topple the Hamas government. It hoped that these extreme sanctions would prompt the Gazan people to rise up and overthrow the Hamas regime. This clearly is not working, and it will not work.

In general, sanctions may help move an enlightened leadership to think twice and compromise on the issue at at hand - think South Africa - but it also builds popular solidarity behind the leadership - think Rhodesia or Cuba - and in non democratic regimes the very lack of generally available resources increases the power of the rulers, since they personally and institutionally are assured access to what is available, and also control the rationing and/or distribution of these resources to the masses - think Zimbabwe or Cuba. (BTW there is also a lesson here for those who advocate sanctions against Iran, as well as those promoting BDS against Israel - success is not guaranteed)

The Israeli government long ago understood that the blockade will not lead to Hamas overthrow by the people. So at this point, the goal of such a total blockade seems mere cruelty and retribution - to punish the Gazan people for not opposing Hamas.

* * *

Meanwhile, the Free Gaza Movement has announced a coalition to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. It also announced the purchase of a 1200 tonne cargo ship, the forth in its fleet of planned blockade runners. The ship has been renamed the Rachel Corrie, in memory of the 23-year-old solidarity activist crushed to death in 2003 by an Israeli military bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza.

I see a Palestinian version of the movie "Exodus" in the offing.


Blogger Eric said...

I see a Palestinian version of the movie "Exodus" in the offing.

If the Palestinians could have commanded that support from Hollywood they would have had a state already.

Sir Robin, who has found Arthur by this point, insists that it would be impossible for them to accomplish this next task, since you need Jews for a successful Broadway (or West End) musical ("You Won't Succeed on Broadway"), and proves his point in a wild production number filled with Fiddler on the Roof parodies, including a bottle dance like the one in Fiddler on the Roof, with Grails instead of bottles. King Arthur and Patsy promptly set off in search of Jews.

5:44 pm  

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