Israel’s siege is ‘main reason for Gaza’s catastrophe’

13 Dec

An explosion erupts in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike in May 2019 (AFP)

By Meron Rapoport, Middle East Eye, 13 December 2019 [Abridged]

Gaza 2020: Palestine’s crisis deepens – and still Israel sticks to its failed policies

Gaza needs more than cosmetic improvements, such as widening the fishing zone – it needs a permanent end to the blockade

One could easily claim that the Jewish-Israeli public is largely blind and deaf to the suffering of the people of Gaza. 

This moral indifference has been manifested repeatedly during the many military operations that Israel has launched on Gaza over the past decade.

Israeli soldiers stand by a military vehicle across the Gaza fence in June (AFP)

Even when entire families have been wiped out by Israeli bombing, very little attention has been paid to the subject in the Hebrew media; it is not part of the public debate. 

It therefore comes as no surprise that the UN warning that Gaza could become uninhabitable by 2020, now less than a month away, has failed to attract the Israeli public’s attention. 

Calls for Israel to disengage

The popular attitude in Israel towards Gaza could be summarised as follows: Palestinians in Gaza have brought trouble upon themselves by electing a Hamas government. Let them pay the price of this choice.

But the issue is much more complicated. Israel is well aware that a humanitarian crisis in Gaza could affect it directly. A 2017 report published by the Institute for National Security Studies, a leading Israeli think-tank, warns that the deteriorating water and sanitation crisis in Gaza could lead to the spreading of epidemics, such as cholera, into Israel.

Political and military logic has taken precedence over all other considerations: Even fears of a total collapse in Gaza are not enough to change this reality.

Fears over the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza have led to strengthened calls within the Israeli establishment to further disengage from Gaza – to let it run its own affairs, with minimum Israeli interference. Israel Katz, the former intelligence minister and now foreign minister, has proposed building an artificial island near Gaza’s shores, serving as a seaport for aid delivery. 

Yet, Israel has not reversed course, instead continuing its blockade on Gaza. The siege is the main, and perhaps the only, reason for Gaza’s catastrophe. But political and military logic has taken precedence over all other considerations: Even fears of a total collapse in Gaza are not enough to change this reality.

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