Worse Than a Crime
26/01/08 "ICH" -- - IT LOOKED like the fall of the
Berlin wall. And not only did it look like it. For a
moment, the Rafah crossing
impossible not to feel exhilaration when masses of
oppressed and hungry people break down the wall that is
shutting them in, their eyes radiant, embracing
everybody they meet - to feel so even when it is your
own government that erected the wall in the first
Gaza Strip is the largest prison on earth. The breaking
of the Rafah wall was an act of liberation. It proves
that an inhuman policy is always a stupid policy: no
power can stand up against a mass of people that has
crossed the border of despair.
is the lesson of Gaza, January, 2008.
MIGHT repeat the famous saying of the French statesman
Boulay de la Meurthe, slightly amended: It is worse than
a war crime, it is a blunder!
ago, the two Ehuds - Barak and Olmert - imposed a
blockade on the Gaza Strip, and boasted about it. Lately
they have tightened the deadly noose even more, so that
hardly anything at all could be brought into the Strip.
Last week they made the blockade absolute - no food, no
medicines. Things reached a climax when they stopped the
fuel, too. Large areas of Gaza remained without
electricity - incubators for premature babies, dialysis
machines, pumps for water and sewage. Hundreds of
thousands remained without heating in the severe cold,
unable to cook, running out of food.
and again, Aljazeera broadcast the pictures into
millions of homes in the Arab world. TV stations all
over the world showed them, too. From Casablanca to
Amman angry mass protest broke out and frightened the
authoritarian Arab regimes. Hosny Mubarak called Ehud
Barak in panic. That evening Barak was compelled to
cancel, at least temporarily, the fuel-blockade he had
imposed in the morning. Apart from that, the blockade
hard to imagine a more stupid act.
REASON given for the starving and freezing of one and a
half million human beings, crowded into a territory of
365 square kilometers, is the continued shooting at the
town of Sderot and the adjoining villages.
is a well-chosen reason. It unites the primitive and
poor parts of the Israeli public. It blunts the
criticism of the UN and the governments throughout the
world, who might otherwise have spoken out against a
collective punishment that is, undoubtedly, a war crime
under international law.
clear picture is presented to the world: the Hamas
terror regime in Gaza launches missiles at innocent
Israeli civilians. No government in the world can
tolerate the bombardment of its citizens from across the
border. The Israeli military has not found a military
answer to the Qassam missiles. Therefore there is no
other way than to exert such strong pressure on the Gaza
population as to make them rise up against Hamas and
compel them to stop the missiles.
day the Gaza electricity works stopped operating, our
military correspondents were overjoyed: only two Qassams
were launched from the Strip. So it works! Ehud Barak is
the day after, 17 Qassams landed, and the joy
evaporated. Politicians and generals were (literally)
out of their minds: one politician proposed to "act
crazier than them", another proposed to "shell Gaza's
urban area indiscriminately for every Qassam launched",
a famous professor (who is a little bit deranged)
proposed the exercise of "ultimate evil".
government scenario was a repeat of Lebanon War II (the
report about which is due to be published in a few
days). Then: Hizbullah captured two soldiers on the
Israeli side of the border, now: Hamas fired on towns
and villages on the Israeli side of the border. Then:
the government decide in haste to start a war, now: the
government decided in haste to impose a total blockade.
Then: the government ordered the massive bombing of the
civilian population in order to get them to pressure
Hizbullah, now: the government decided to cause massive
suffering of the civilian population in order to get
them to pressure Hamas.
results were the same in both cases: the Lebanese
population did not rise up against Hizbullah, but on the
contrary, people of all religious communities united
behind the Shiite organization. Hassan Nasrallah became
the hero of the entire Arab world. And now: the
population unites behind Hamas and accuses Mahmoud Abbas
of cooperation with the enemy. A mother who has no food
for her children does not curse Ismail Haniyeh, she
curses Olmert, Abbas and Mubarak.
WHAT to do? After all, it is impossible to tolerate the
suffering of the inhabitants of Sderot, who are under
is being hidden from the embittered public is that the
launching of the Qassams could be stopped tomorrow
Several months ago Hamas proposed a cease-fire. It
repeated the offer this week.
cease-fire means, in the view of Hamas: the Palestinians
will stop shooting Qassams and mortar shells, the
Israelis will stop the incursions into Gaza, the
"targeted" assassinations and the blockade.
doesn't our government jump at this proposal?
Simple: in order to make such a deal, we must speak with
Hamas, directly or indirectly. And this is precisely
what the government refuses to do.
Simple again: Sderot is only a pretext - much like the
two captured soldiers were a pretext for something else
altogether. The real purpose of the whole exercise is to
overthrow the Hamas regime in Gaza and to prevent a
Hamas takeover in the West Bank.
simple and blunt words: the government sacrifices the
fate of the Sderot population on the altar of a hopeless
principle. It is more important for the government to
boycott Hamas - because it is now the spearhead of
Palestinian resistance - than to put an end to the
suffering of Sderot. All the media cooperate with this
been said before that it is dangerous to write satire in
our country - too often the satire becomes reality. Some
readers may recall a satirical article I wrote months
ago. In it I described the situation in Gaza as a
scientific experiment designed to find out how far one
can go, in starving a civilian population and turning
their lives into hell, before they raise their hands in
week, the satire has become official policy. Respected
commentators declared explicitly that Ehud Barak and the
army chiefs are working on the principle of "trial and
error" and change their methods daily according to
results. They stop the fuel to Gaza, observe how this
works and backtrack when the international reaction is
too negative. They stop the delivery of medicines, see
how it works, etc. The scientific aim justifies the
man in charge of the experiment is Defense Minister Ehud
Barak, a man of many ideas and few scruples, a man whose
whole turn of mind is basically inhuman. He is now,
perhaps, the most dangerous person in Israel, more
dangerous than Ehud Olmert and Binyamin Netanyahu,
dangerous to the very existence of Israel in the long
man in charge of execution is the Chief of Staff. This
week we had the chance of hearing speeches by two of his
predecessors, generals Moshe Ya'alon and Shaul Mofaz, in
a forum with inflated intellectual pretensions. Both
were discovered to have views that place them somewhere
between the extreme Right and the ultra-Right. Both have
a frighteningly primitive mind. There is no need to
waste a word about the moral and intellectual qualities
of their immediate successor, Dan Halutz. If these are
the voices of the three last Chiefs of Staff, what about
the incumbent, who cannot speak out as openly as they?
Has this apple fallen further from the tree?
three days ago, the generals could entertain the opinion
that the experiment was succeeding. The misery in the
Gaza Strip had reached its climax. Hundreds of thousands
were threatened by actual hunger. The chief of UNRWA
warned of an impending human catastrophe. Only the rich
could still drive a car, heat their homes and eat their
fill. The world stood by and wagged its collective
tongue. The leaders of the Arab states voiced empty
phrases of sympathy without raising a finger.
who has mathematical abilities, could calculate when the
population would finally collapse.
THEN something happened that none of them foresaw, in
spite of the fact that it was the most foreseeable event
one puts a million and a half people in a pressure
cooker and keeps turning up the heat, it will explode.
That is what happened at the Gaza-Egypt border.
first there was a small explosion. A crowd stormed the
gate, Egyptian policemen opened live fire, dozens were
wounded. That was a warning.
next day came the big attack. Palestinian fighters blew
up the wall in many places. Hundreds of thousands broke
out into Egyptian territory and took a deep breath. The
blockade was broken.
before that, Mubarak was in an impossible situation.
Hundreds of millions of Arabs, a billion Muslims, saw
how the Israeli army had closed the Gaza strip off on
three sides: the North, the East and the sea. The fourth
side of the blockade was provided by the Egyptian army.
Egyptian president, who claims the leadership of the
entire Arab world, was seen as a collaborator with an
inhuman operation conducted by a cruel enemy in order to
gain the favor (and the money) of the Americans. His
internal enemies, the Muslim Brothers, exploited the
situation to debase him in the eyes of his own people.
doubtful if Mubarak could have persisted in this
position. But the Palestinian masses relieved him of the
need to make a decision. They decided for him. They
broke out like a tsunami wave. Now he has to decide
whether to succumb to the Israeli demand to re-impose
the blockade on his Arab brothers.
what about Barak's experiment? What's the next step? The
options are few:
re-occupy Gaza. The army does not like the idea. It
understands that this would expose thousands of soldiers
to a cruel guerilla war, which would be unlike any
tighten the blockade again and exert extreme pressure on
Mubarak, including the use of Israeli influence on the
US Congess to deprive him of the billions he gets every
year for his services.
turn the curse into a blessing, by handing the Strip
over to Mubarak, pretending that this was Barak's hidden
aim all along. Egypt would have to safeguard Israel's
security, prevent the launching of Qassams and expose
its own soldiers to a Palestinian guerilla war - when it
thought it was rid of the burden of this poor and barren
area, and after the infrastructure there has been
destroyed by the Israeli occupation. Probably Mubarak
will say: Very kind of you, but no thanks.
brutal blockade was a war crime. And worse: it was a