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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Four things Israel doesn't want you to know about the Gaza blockade

 Sunday, 06 November 2011 11:17 Mya Guarnieri for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)
Israel relies on collective amnesia to justify its blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Here's four facts that the Israeli government would rather you forget.

The Audacity of Hope, the US Boat to Gaza that was prevented from leaving Greek waters in June of 2011 due to Israeli political pressure, sought to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. (photo: Mya Guarnieri)

As the Israeli navy prepared to intercept the flotilla "Freedom Waves for Gaza," the “IDFSpokesperson” tweeted: “Gaza is under a maritime security blockade according to international law.”

According to the same Twitter feed, the most recent attempt to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is not a flotilla but, rather, a “provocatilla.”

Setting aside the issue of whether or not the blockade is legal, here’s a few of the things the Israeli army fails to mention when it issues statements about the blockade:

1) In August of 2008 and October of the same year, boats manned by activists reached Gaza, breaking the blockade that Israel is now so intent on enforcing.

2) Israel itself selectively breaks the blockade when it needs or wants to. Take, for example, the recent decision to import palm fronds from Gaza for Sukkot.

3) Even though both the Israeli government and the mainstream media claims that the blockade began in 2007, the closure of Gaza was a gradual process that started in 1991. While what we see today is, thus far, the most severe manifestation of this process, Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip have been subject to collective punishment for two decades.

Pegging the hermetic sealing of the Strip to 2007 offers Israeli officials and those who do hasbara an easy opening to talk about Hamas and Gilad Schalit. But Gilad Schalit is home now. And the blockade has onlymade Hamas stronger.

Hamas taxes goods coming in through the tunnels from Egypt. While those products aren’t enough and the tunnel economy does not sustain Gaza, what is entering is enough for Hamas to maintain the image of resistance in the face of the Israeli blockade. For example: according to a recent article from the Alternative Information Center, Hamas is using building materials smuggled into Gaza for a new housing project. This won’t be enough and Gaza will remain in a housing crisis. However, such symbolic initiatives can boost the popularity of Hamas.

4) And as for that boogeyman, Hamas? Israel helped create it, encouraging the growth of Islamist groups to counter Fatah. While the Wall Street Journal refers to Israel’s relationships with Islamists as “a catalog of unintended…consequences” in the linked article, I suspect Israel had a divide and conquer strategy. What can’t be argued is that the chilly relations between Hamas and Fatah–and that competing parties rule the Occupied Palestinian Territories–serve Israeli interests.

(This article was originally posted at +972).

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