Israel’s absurd zigzag policy on Gaza Yoaz Hendel/10.21.14/Ynetnews
Op-ed: Is Hamas really ISIS, as Netanyahu argued, or an organization we negotiate with and offer gestures to, like treating its leader’s daughter in Israel?
Once again I find myself courageously defending the Israeli siege policy, and then everything turns over at once. The first time was immediately after the Marmara flotilla raid. A number of killed terrorists from the IHH organization got the entire world talking about Israel’s naval blockade policy in Gaza. In a public event, I was sitting in front of a famous left-wing person, who kept rubbing his hands in a pompous manner. He explained fervently that the siege of Gaza was inhumane, exaggerated and indiscreet. I explained with the same passion that there was a need to seize materials which would be used for terror. He called the passengers peace activists; I called them terrorists who should be interrogated in Israel.
The following day, the Netanyahu government decided to change the rules. Previously forbidden goods entered the Strip. Terrorists detained on the Marmara were released.
He probably smiled at home when he heard the news. I swallowed hard, grumbled on my keyboard and went back to my own world, where decisions are made using discretion. The second time was several days ago, when I realized that the siege policy had been changed again. Beneath the radar, without any statements from politicians, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major-General Yoav Mordechai allowed 600 tons of cement, 400 tons of iron and 50 trucks carrying rubble to enter the Strip.
The conference discussing Gaza’s reconstruction – without Israel – ended with several billion dollars which will be handed over to Hamas. And that’s just the beginning.
After the war in Gaza, it seemed that every sensible person understood that the siege is a necessity. Hamas turned the civil infrastructures into a tool of war. Part of the concrete transferred to the Strip was used to build offensive tunnels against Israel. Iron was used to produce rockets. Fertilizers for agriculture and sugar, which was meant to make life sweeter, were turned into the fuel which stirred the rockets towards Israel. What was transferred there for civilian purposes came back here as a military threat.
Common sense has it that the entry of materials into the Strip should be tightly supervised. Government members stated that the Strip must be demilitarized. Defense establishment officials spoke about tighter supervision of the goods transferred there. “Without tight supervision and demilitarization, how will we know that Hamas is not using these materials once again to prepare for a battle against Israel?” they asked out loud. And I agreed.
In the newspaper, I argued with radical left-wing organizations, like B’Tselem and Gisha, which voiced their own arguments against the Israeli siege involving construction materials. In distant Australia, I found myself explaining the siege of Gaza to a group of inquiring students and several journalists. And when I sat with my acquaintances over a cup of coffee on Friday, we concluded that now – without any materials and free passage from Egypt – Hamas would find it much more difficult to rebuild its tunnels.
Up to a few days ago. Suddenly, without any explanation or statement to the nation, the siege policy changed. The supervision didn’t. Despite the claims of the coordinator of the government’s activities in the territories, there is no one to supervise the materials transferred to Gaza today. The Palestinian Authority is not present and doesn’t want to be present. Hamas is the same Hamas, and the tunnels are the same tunnels. Israel is reversing the policy it adopted and Hamas’ statements contradict the Israeli assessment that the sides are headed to a state of calm.
There are two ways to explain this gap: One explanation is that Hamas is not ISIS, as Netanyahu declared, but an organization Israel negotiates with. There are tense relations, but also gestures like treating Ismail Haniyeh’s daughter in Israel (by the way, try to imagine the daughter of the ISIS beheader receiving medical treatment in the United States, and you’ll understand just how absurd it is).
The second explanation is that Israel has not decided what it wants to do. It’s doing both this and that. The battle has yet to be decided and the operation continues, only with less public relations from the politicians.
Since the disengagement, Gaza no longer belongs to the State of Israel. We have a tense border. A war every two-three years. We have disengaged, but we have failed to disconnect all the way.
As long as the electricity is Israeli, the water is Israeli and the siege is Israeli – there must be a regular policy. Humanitarian arguments, as important and true as they may be, are not an alternative to a policy. Otherwise, the only message conveyed is that the Jews only understand force.