15 Years of Failed Experiments: Myths and Facts about the Israeli Siege on Gaza

In 2007, Israel imposed a full siege on the Gaza Strip. (Image: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

15 several years have handed because Israel imposed a overall siege on the Gaza Strip, subjecting practically two million Palestinians to 1 of the longest and most cruel politically-determined blockades in heritage. 

The Israeli federal government experienced then justified its siege as the only way to shield Israel from Palestinian “terrorism and rocket attacks”. This remains the formal Israeli line until finally this working day. Not quite a few Israelis – undoubtedly not in authorities, media or even ordinary people today – would argue that Israel currently is safer than it was prior to June 2007. 

It is extensively understood that Israel has imposed the siege as a response to the Hamas takeover of the Strip, next a transient and violent confrontation in between the two most important Palestinian political rivals, Hamas, which at the moment rules Gaza, and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Financial institution. 

However, the isolation of Gaza was planned years in advance of the Hamas-Fatah clash, or even the Hamas legislative election victory of January 2006. Late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was established to redeploy Israeli forces out of Gaza, yrs prior to these dates.

What at last culminated in the Israeli Disengagement from Gaza in August-September 2005 was proposed by Sharon in 2003, approved by his federal government in 2004 and finally adopted by the Knesset in February 2005. 

The ‘disengagement’ was an Israeli tactic that aimed at getting rid of a several thousand unlawful Jewish settlers out of Gaza – to other unlawful Jewish settlements in the West Lender – whilst redeploying the Israeli military from crowded Gaza population centers to the border parts. This was the actual start out of the Gaza siege. 

The earlier mentioned assertion was even very clear to James Wolfensohn, who was appointed by the Quartet on the Center East as the Unique Envoy for Gaza Disengagement. In 2010, he reached a equivalent conclusion: “Gaza experienced been efficiently sealed off from the exterior world since the Israeli disengagement … and the humanitarian and financial effects for the Palestinian populace were profound.

The greatest motive behind the ‘disengagement’ was not Israel’s safety, or even to starve Gazans as a form of collective punishment. The latter was one particular purely natural result of a significantly much more sinister political plot, as communicated by Sharon’s individual senior advisor at the time, Dov Weisglass. In an job interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in October 2004, Weisglass put it plainly: “The importance of the disengagement prepare is the freezing of the peace process.” How?

“When you freeze (the peace) process, you protect against the institution of a Palestinian state, and you reduce a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem,” according to Weisglass. Not only was this Israel’s ultimate motive guiding the disengagement and subsequent siege on Gaza but, in accordance to the seasoned Israeli politician, it was all accomplished “with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both of those houses of Congress.” The President in question right here is no other than US president at the time, George W. Bush.

All of this had taken spot before Palestine’s legislative elections, Hamas’ victory and the Hamas-Fatah clash. The latter simply served as a practical justification to what experienced previously been discussed, ‘ratified’ and carried out.

For Israel, the siege has been a political ploy, which obtained additional meaning and benefit as time passed. In response to the accusation that Israel was starving Palestinians in Gaza, Weisglass was quite quick to muster an respond to: “The strategy is to place the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of starvation.” 

What was then comprehended as a facetious, albeit thoughtless assertion, turned out to be real Israeli policy, as indicated in a 2008 report, which was designed available in 2012. Many thanks to the Israeli human legal rights business Gisha, the “redlines (for) food consumption in the Gaza Strip” – composed by the Israeli Coordinator of Govt Routines in the Territories – was designed community. It emerged that Israel was calculating the least range of energy necessary to hold Gaza’s populace alive, a amount that is “adjusted to tradition and experience” in the Strip. 

The rest is background. Gaza’s struggling is complete. 98 per cent of the Strip’s drinking water is undrinkable. Hospitals lack vital materials and lifetime-conserving drugs. Motion in and out of the Strip is almost prohibited, with small exceptions. 

Nonetheless, Israel has unsuccessful miserably in attaining any of its objectives. Tel Aviv hoped that the ‘disengagement’ would compel the intercontinental group to redefine the authorized standing of the Israeli profession of Gaza. Regardless of Washington’s strain, that hardly ever transpired. Gaza remains section of the Occupied Palestinian Territories as outlined in international law.

Even the September 2007 Israeli designation of Gaza as an “enemy entity” and a “hostile territory” altered little, besides that it allowed the Israeli federal government to declare numerous devastating wars on the Strip, starting up in 2008. 

None of these wars have effectively served a lengthy-term Israeli system. In its place, Gaza carries on to fight back on a considerably larger sized scale than at any time before, discouraging the calculation of Israeli leaders, as it became obvious in their befuddled, disturbing language. During just one of the deadliest Israeli wars on Gaza in July 2014, Israeli proper-wing Knesset member, Ayelet Shaked, wrote on Facebook that the war was “not a war versus terror, and not a war versus extremists, and not even a war towards the Palestinian Authority.” As an alternative, in accordance to Shaked, who a yr later grew to become Israel’s Minister of Justice, “… is a war among two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people today.”

In the final investigation, the governments of Sharon, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert, Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett unsuccessful to isolate Gaza from the larger Palestinian overall body, split the will of the Strip or be certain Israeli safety at the expense of Palestinians. 

Moreover, Israel has fallen target to its personal hubris. Even though prolonging the siege will obtain no limited or long-time period strategic benefit, lifting the siege, from Israel’s viewpoint, would be tantamount to an admission of defeat – and could empower Palestinians in the West Bank to emulate the Gaza model. This deficiency of certainty further accentuates the political disaster and absence of strategic vision that ongoing to outline all Israeli governments for nearly two decades. 

Inevitably, Israel’s political experiment in Gaza has backfired, and the only way out is for the Gaza siege to be totally lifted and, this time, for excellent.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the writer of 6 guides. His newest ebook, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Eyesight for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Discuss out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Study Fellow at the Heart for Islam and International Affairs (CIGA). His web site is www.ramzybaroud.net