Jun 02 2010
The funny thing about nearly all of the coverage of the Gaza flotilla debacle is that the reason for the blockade is never explained. It’s as if the Israeli government were composed of inhuman barbarians intent on squeezing Palestinians into misery for no reason at all.
Why is there a blockade around Gaza? Actually, it’s quite simple:
Hamas, which runs Gaza, is recognized by many countries as a terrorist organization. Imagine if Al Queda somehow won an election in Prince Edward Island. Canadians would have no compunction about blockading the land of Anne of Green Gables.
To put it another way, Israel will call off its blockade of Hamas when the USA calls off its hunt for Osama bin Ladin.
Blockade is a legitimate tool under international law used as an effective naval measure by several Western countries. Think of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. According to section 7.7.1 of the US Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, the “right of blockade is intended to prevent vessels and aircraft, regardless of their cargo, from crossing an established and publicized cordon separating the enemy from international waters.”
Another point that gets lost in the flotilla story is that humanitarian aid is already getting into Gaza. Israel has already provided over one million tons of humanitarian aid in the past 18 months; nearly one ton for every Gazan. It’s true that most people in Gaza certainly aren’t living the high life; but that’s the point of sanctions, to pressure the population to rise up against their reckless and wrong-headed leaders (assuming the leaders themselves are not willing to change course).
Not to put too fine a point on it, here’s Gaza in the grip of its humanitarian crisis: