Why Chocolate and French Fries Will Not Alleviate
's Agony Gaza
In addition to nine slain Turkish activists and global ignominy for the Jewish state, last month’s botched raid on the MV Mavi Marmara produced widespread murmurings about the need for Israel to rethink its three-year blockade of the war-ravaged Gaza Strip. The message came not from human rights groups or international organizations — which have long opposed the siege on both humanitarian and strategic grounds — but from erstwhile supporters of Israel’s Gaza policies, including the United States.
“Gaza has become the symbol in the Arab world of the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and we have to change that,” a senior American official told the New York Times. “We need to remove the impulse for the flotillas. The Israelis also realize this is not sustainable.”
Now, after three weeks of relentless propagandizing and mutual recriminations between
While any measures to ease the embargo are welcome, it must be said that, given the nature of the humanitarian crisis racking Gaza, Israel’s recent steps are largely cosmetic, aimed more at improving Israel’s image than alleviating the suffering of Gaza’s civilians. Nor are the measures likely to be effective in “remov[ing] the impulse for the flotillas,” a number of which are en route to fresh confrontation with the Israeli navy as I type. And here’s why.
But neither goal has panned out. Hamas, as it happened, was still able to import weapons through an elaborate system of underground tunnels linking Egypt and Gaza, and the only challenges mounted to Hamas’s hegemony over the Gaza Strip in the three-year period of the blockade’s duration have been from radical, al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadist groups whose victory would have posed far greater challenges to Israel and the United States than does Hamas (luckily, these upstarts were summarily crushed by Hamas’s paramilitary brigades). After three years, the only perceptible outcome of the blockade has been the de-development of
In light of these facts,
Most nuanced reportage on
According to the Los Angeles Times:
Since the blockade began,
More than 95 percent of
For construction worker Fawzi abu Jarad, 42, business should be booming, given that thousands of homes were destroyed during the late 2008-early 2009 Israeli offensive. But the restrictions on the importation of cement have left him out of work.
In 2007, his $160-a-month paycheck, though meager, enabled him to put food on the table…
Now the family of eight lives in one small room. They survive off three-month supplies of flour and other basic food items distributed by the United Nations.
"I can't even feed my family anymore," Abu Jarad said. "I appreciate the aid, but I don't want aid. I want to work. It's a miserable situation. There is no dignity."
Abu Jarad’s plight has become the quotidian reality for most Gazans, and it’s a plight that further imports of snack food are unlikely to remedy. The only humane solution for
Until President Obama reassesses these basic calculations, we can expect no respite for
Matt Berkman is a researcher for a Middle East policy institute in
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