Americans for Peace Now’s latest “Middle East Peace Report” (link doesn’t work, so go to http://www.peacenow.org/mepr.asp?rid=&cid=4173) has some provocative critiques of the Israeli move to cut Gaza’s fuel supply, including lengthy excerpts from a column by Nahum Barnea in today’s Yedioth Ahoronot.
I keep waiting to read sensible justifications for this action from the Israeli security establishment. But thus far, I’ve yet to find anyone who can explain precisely how making ordinary Gazans suffer even more will prompt Hamas to clamp down on the renegades firing Kassam rockets. Why would this accomplish more than the bombing of Gaza power stations or other “tough” steps that the Israelis have tried? Given the absence of any logic, I can only conclude that Barnea is on to something when he writes “In the absence of a solution to the Kassam rocket problem, even a media spin can serve as a solution, just so long as no one knows that the defense ministerâ€™s mind is empty of ideas…” Here is an excerpt from the APN piece:
Nahum Barnea writes in Mondayâ€™s Yedioth Ahronoth that this decision embodies â€œa rare combination of errors. Firstly, it punishes not the Kassam rocket cells but the Gazan population, and pushes [the latter] into the arms of Hamas and terrorism. Secondly, it is opposed to all norms of morals and international law. Instead of severing Israel from the occupation, at least as far as Gaza is concerned, it exacerbates Israelâ€™s image as a cruel occupier. Thirdly, it does not conform to the effort to reestablish a dialogue with the Palestinian Authority and with the moderate Arab regimes. The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan or Saudi Arabia will not be able to sit quietly in Annapolis while [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak is plunging Gaza into darkness, not to mention Abu Mazen.â€
Barnea believes that the decision to cut off electricity to Gaza, an issue now being reviewed by Israelâ€™s High Court of Justice, is â€œgood news for Hamas. It provides it voluntarily with propaganda ammunition and a good excuse for failing to administer the Gaza Strip. Every shortage that will be revealed from now in the kingdom of Hamas, in fuel, basic foodstuffs or humanitarian goods, will fall on Israelâ€™s head. Indeed, Hamas did not wait for Barak: Yesterday, before the ink had dried on the decision, Hamas complained that Israel had halted the fuel supply. Whether it had halted or did not halt it is not important. What matters is that the impression of a moral balance has been created: We are hit by Kassam rockets. They are fuel starved. We and Hamas are in the same boat.â€
â€œWhy is Barak doing this nonsensical act?â€ asks Barnea. â€œFirst of all, because in the absence of a solution to the Kassam rocket problem, even a media spin can serve as a solution, just so long as no one knows that the defense ministerâ€™s mind is empty of ideas. Secondly, because it looks wonderful in the Internet comments: Every eight-year old who wants to express himself voices his enthusiastic support. Finally, writes the child, we have a defense minister with balls. But why complain about Barak. We have a prime minister who is willing to accept this folly silently, just to keep from rocking the boat. We have a foreign minister who is supposed to warn of the diplomatic damage, but she too is silent. We have a president who is supposed to represent the moral aspect of our life, but he too is silent.”