Let Gaza live

A Palestinian man stands outside of his shop in central Gaza City, where residents fear the possibility of food and fuel shortages after Hamas took over the strip. (Hatem Omar, Maan Images)

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, Jun 24, 2007 / IMEU
This article was originally published by Haaretz and is republished with permission.

Here is a success story: Israel and the West imposed a boycott on the Palestinian Authority with the aim of weakening Hamas, and a year and a half later this brilliant policy has yielded its fruits: Hamas has become stronger. If there is a lesson from the fiasco in Gaza, here it is: Starving, drying up and blocking aid do not sear the consciousness and do not weaken political movements. On the contrary.

Reality has refuted the chorus of experts and commentators who preached in behalf of the boycott policy. This daft notion that it is possible to topple an elected government by applying pressure on a helpless population suffered a complete failure. The world boycotted the unity government, which could perhaps have prevented the harsh scenes in Gaza if it had been allowed to rule, and consequently we received the alternative: the complete takeover of Gaza by Hamas in a military coup, tearing Gaza away from the West Bank. This is bad news.

It is possible to make a list of the fateful mistakes committed by Israel, the U.S. and Fatah, which led to what has happened, but the question now facing us is where to go from here.

Will we continue the boycott policy until an even more extreme and dangerous government arises in Gaza, such as the global jihad or Al-Qaida? Or will we internalize the fact that force will not succeed, that it is impossible to return to the status quo ante on the backs of this weak population and that we need to change direction?

Israel and the U.S. are now embracing Mahmoud Abbas. There is a considerable amount of hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness about this. Not long ago he was considered a leader with “plucked feathers.” All of his requests and demands were rejected, one after another, and every effort was made to undermine his government. So what has changed now?

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