Gaza flotilla: Why the blockade makes sense for Israel
Until Hamas accepts Israel’s right to exist and stops launching rocket attacks, Israel may have to continue the Gaza blockade.
The activists aboard the Gaza flotilla that was raided by Israeli security forces Monday may have believed that breaking the Gaza blockade was at its core forcing Israel to address an issue the activists see as moral blindness. Yet the situation is far more complex than they would like people to believe.Skip to next paragraph
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The story of the flotilla crisis begins from the time Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005. Israelis were told that if they stopped occupying foreign land, they would be more secure.
Between their withdrawal and the Gaza war of December 2008, however, Israeli citizens absorbed 3,335 rockets aimed at their homes. Their border towns became uninhabitable, as mothers had 45 seconds to hear a siren, gather their kids, and pray they would make it to a shelter.
Some of the rockets were Iranian-made Grad rockets and others were Fajr-3s that had a 27-mile range. The range of the rockets grew with each passing month after Israeli forces left. Moreover, since Israel withdrew from Gaza, it no longer controlled the Egyptian-Gazan border, where all of the rocket smuggling was taking place.
There was never a single UN Security Council session to discuss those attacks.
That’s why Israel insisted on a naval blockade of the Gaza Strip: It was the only way to curb the Palestinian rocket attacks on its people.
While critics like to say that Israel retains forms of air and sea control, it ceded the area that counted in the withdrawal and exposed its citizens to rocket attacks. The lessons from that pullout will make a potential withdrawal from the West Bank much harder. There will be those who say, “If you didn’t like the book, why would you see the movie?”
Now, in the wake of the confrontation between the flotilla and Israeli forces, the international community is calling on Israel to lift the blockade.
Could Hamas, the radical militant organization that effectively rules Gaza, be trusted to adhere to a lifting of the blockade?
While much has been made of the fact that Israel does not talk to Hamas (both Jerusalem and Washington deem it a terrorist organization), it is also true that Hamas has no interest in talking to Israel.
Hamas does not recognize Israel at any size – even the area of a telephone booth on a Tel Aviv beach. Just last week in Damascus, Syria, PBS talk show host Charlie Rose kept asking Hamas leader Khaled Meshal if he would accept Israel if it withdrew to the pre-1967 borders; Mr. Meshal refused to answer.