Gaza Siege (2014)


Perhaps now as we begin to watch Israel, Egypt, the PA, and the international community begin to figure out what to do about Gaza, consider this stunning piece about and against Israel’s siege of Gaza since 2007 by Shlomi Eldar. No leftwing shill, Eldar used to be the Gaza reporter for Israel’s Channel 10 news. The basic argument was that the government of then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert slapped on the siege as soon as Hamas took power in Gaza, and that this was done with zero institutional forethought. You can read the article here. I’m posting the highlights as I understand them:

“The Olmert government and the Netanyahu government that followed have never held a serious, in-depth discussion with the defense system and the civil administration regarding this decision, which morphed from an ad-hoc act into strategic policy. Israel’s working assumption was that economic pressure on the Gaza Strip would cause unrest among its residents, forcing Hamas to relinquish authority when it would not be able to provide for their well-being. 


In my book “To Know Hamas” (2012), I revealed that the day after the closure was imposed on the Gaza strip, the organization sent messages to Israel via official representatives and tradesmen from Gaza. These people conveyed the message that if Israel would open the border crossings, Hamas would stop all terrorist acts against Israel.


As time went by, Olmert’s decision became set in stone and Israel hardened its policy regarding the transfer of merchandise to the Strip. Clothing, shoes, handbags and notebooks for school children were not allowed to be brought in. Even coriander was disallowed; someone in the civil administration decided that the spice was a luxury that should be withheld from the Gaza residents who dared to choose Hamas. 


Hamas’ political wing failed to remove the closure that only became more severe; this, in turn, greatly strengthened the organization’s military wing. The military wing, then headed by Ahmed Jabari and today by Muhammad Deif, took upon itself to open Gaza to the world by its own methods: launching rockets against Israel, military escalation, and using the demand to open the crossings and alleviate the blockage as a precondition for a cease-fire. But now we can already state that this policy also failed, while bringing down disaster on the Gaza Strip and causing its residents to pay a very heavy price.


Despite the mistakes made in Israel, the responsibility for the tragedy in Gaza rests on Hamas’ political and military leadership. The thought that the organization could maintain a reasonable life routine after the violent coup it executed was no more than an illusion.


This is the time to examine the option of opening the border crossings gradually, and in the framework of negotiations. This is the only way to lessen Hamas’ motivation to invest in military empowerment.”




About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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2 Responses to Gaza Siege (2014)

  1. Michael says:

    Still using Orwellianisms, are you?

    The Oxford English Dictionary definition of a siege:

    “A military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling those inside to surrender.”

    A besieging army does not ensure and facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid including food and medical supplies to those it surrounds. It does not supply them with 50% of their electricity supply, with oil and diesel or with cooking gas. It does not help them export their produce and give their farmers agricultural training. It does not evacuate their sick and treat them – sometimes at its own expense – in its own hospitals.

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