One would have the heart of a stone not to feel for the thousands of Gaza Palestinians who broke through the border barriers with Egypt at Rafah to buy goods and breathe the air outside their imprisoned enclave. In a comment to my previous post, Shimon Gottschalk asked my opinion of the demonstration/convoy of relief supplies planned by Israeli peaceniks at the Israel-Gaza border this weekend: I sympathize with efforts to ease the blockade on people who are suffering from privation; I am not favorably inclined toward the political message of the demonstrators, who apparently blame the entire situation on Israel.
At the same time, I believe it unfortunate that the Olmert government rejected a Hamas proposal for a truce a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, as we are reminded by Ami Isseroff in his posting of Jan. 23, “Gaza Gimmix,” the severity of Israel’s siege of Gaza is a response to the almost constant attacks against southern Israel and other manifestations of the Hamas regime’s violent intent toward the people of Israel and its internationally-recognized borders. As Isseroff points out:
Hamas originally came to power in “democratic” but basically illegal Palestinian elections. The elections were illegal because under the Oslo accords that were the enabling document[s] for the elections, Hamas, which does not recognize the right of Israel to exist and insists on violence, should not have been allowed to participate in elections to a government that is supposed to negotiate peace with Israel.
I recall Meretz party leader Yossi Beilin making the same observation, even though he very much wants a cease-fire arranged with Hamas. Still, I think that Isseroff is unnecessarily caustic and hard-hearted in referring to the Gaza “crisis” and “siege” in quotes, as if there is no humanitarian crisis there and no siege. This is all problematic, but unlike how the peace demonstrators see things, Isseroff and I are in agreement that Hamas is a large part of the problem.