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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Gaza Strip’

Gaza – A Port is No Panacea for Poverty

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

Attributed to Albert Einstein

 Just when you thought that you could not possibly hear anything more preposterous on how to help resolve the  conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs, somehow someone always manages to prove you wrong—and comes out with a policy proposal so glaringly absurd that it transcends what you  mistakenly believed was the pinnacle of imbecility.

 

Harebrained and hazardous

Disturbingly, precisely such a hopelessly hare-brained scheme is now being repeatedly bandied about by Israelis in positions of influence.

This is the idea of providing Gaza with what, in effect, will be a detachable civilian port under Israeli supervision , built on an off-shore artificial island, connected to the mainland by a bridge over 4 kilometers long, which can, according to its proponents, easily be disconnected should the Gazans “misbehave”.

Actually, this nonsensical notion has been around for quite some time. Indeed as early as 2011 the British daily, The Guardian, reported that Yisrael Katz, Israel’s minister for transport, was pursuing the idea, which he estimated would cost $10 billion and take about a decade to complete.

Lately, however, it has been raised with increasing frequency in the media, and publically endorsed by both government ministers and senior IDF brass.

Thus, earlier this year, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant, currently Construction Minister, formerly head of Southern Command expressed his support for the idea in an interview with Bloomberg (March 1).

Just prior to that, Haaretz (February 24) reported that “Senior Israel Defense Forces officers are in favor in principle of a port for the Gaza Strip”, and just last week the Jerusalem Post (May 21) wrote: “High up within the defense establishment, some believe that the time has come for Israel to set up a civilian seaport for the Gaza Strip”.

 

Detachable port? Detached from reality!

Indeed, at a conference held this weekend in New York, Yisrael Katz, who now, in addition to his former transport portfolio, holds the newly created post of intelligence minister, reiterated his previous support for the construction of a port of Gaza on an artificial off-shore island,: “The off-shore project could provide Gaza with an economic and humanitarian gateway to the world without endangering Israeli security.”

This, of course, is demonstrably detached from reality—but more on that a little later.

I confess that the first time I heard of this appallingly absurd idea was in a private conversation several months ago with someone (whom I shall leave nameless) recently designated as a serious contender for the position of head of the Mossad, to replace previous director, Tamir Pardo.

I remember at the time being taken aback by an idea, so clearly ill-conceived and  ill-fated, being promoted by someone so senior – but took (false) comfort in the belief that it was so wildly outlandish that it would never be given serious consideration by those in authority.

As it turns out, I was sadly mistaken—as this perilous proposal continues to enjoy sustained attention in the discourse.

 

Soldiers turned sociologists?

Perhaps most disturbing are the reports of the support the idea received from senior IDF officers – both past and present—and the rationale that this support appears based on.  For typically, it has nothing to do with any military considerations or operational advantage Israel might gain from the provision of such port facilities to the terrorist-controlled enclave—but rather on a (highly questionable) assessment of socio-economic trends in Gaza, the ramifications this may have for the Gazan public, and how a port might allegedly address it.

Thus one well-informed correspondent on military affairs describes reasons that underpin that “rationale” for want of a better word: “Hamas, the argument goes, would be hard pressed to careen down the slope of a new war with Israel, even if it wanted to, if the Gazan economy were to begin to take off, enjoying imports and exports, allowing for jobs and income, and giving the civilian population something to lose. While there is no doubt that Hamas is responsible for Gaza’s dire economic state by insisting on jihad with Israel rather than investing in its people’s welfare, Israeli defense officials still feel that they can and should assist the Gazan people attain a better life.”

While some may find this professed concern for the welfare of enemy civilians both noble and a reflection of “enlightened self-interest”, in truth it portends ominous outcomes for Israel and Israelis.

For it is a position that is so diametrically at odds with past experience, and flies so directly in the face of the facts of recent decades that it is difficult to know what is more disturbing: Whether the supporters of the proposal really believe what they are saying; or whether they are saying it despite the fact that they don’t.

 

Reinforcing the rationale for terror

Of no less concern is that this position echoes the sentiments expressed by both Ministers Katz and Galant  that “The biggest danger to Israel is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza…If Gaza had the ability to bring ships, and goods, without posing a security problem, that is in everybody’s interest.”

For it is a message that strongly reinforces the rationale justifying terror, implying that it is largely economic privation that is the primary cause of the Judeocidal terror emanating from Gaza, and if the residents of that ill-fated strip were afforded greater prosperity, this would operate to stifle the motivation to perpetrate acts of terror.

This is a thesis that is wrong on virtually every level. Firstly, it is risible to believe that Hamas, that has deliberately put its own civilians in harm’s way, gives a hoot about their economic well-being. After all, if it has scant regard for their lives, why should their livelihood be of greater concern?

Indeed, it is far more likely that if the general economic situation were to improve, Hamas would coercively appropriate much of this new found wealth for its own belligerent needs–with prosperity thus making it more potent–not more pacific.

Perversely, perhaps a more effective, but heretically politically-incorrect, suggestion for removing Hamas would be to allow socio-economic conditions to deteriorate so drastically that the general populace would rise up against it, depose it and ensconce a hopefully more amenable regime, with greater sensitivity for its needs.

But I digress.

To suggest that by alleviating economic hardship, Israel could alleviate terror is, in effect, not only inverting the causal relationship between the two, but it also implies that the victim of terror is to blame for his attackers’ aggression against him. Little could be more counterproductive—and misleading for Israel.

 

Port no panacea for poverty

Of course, as I have demonstrated at length elsewhere, the allegedly dire situation in Gaza is not the cause of the terror that emanates from it. It is the consequence of that terror. The onerous measures that Israel is compelled to undertake to ensure the safety of its citizens is not the reason for, but the result of that terror. If the latter were eliminated, there would be no need for the former—and far more rational solutions than a multi-billion dollar artificial island could be found to facilitate the flow of goods and people to and from Gaza.

Indeed, no great analytical acumen should be required to swiftly bring us to the conclusion that a port in Gaza will never be a panacea for the poverty of the population.

Hamas, and its other terrorist cohorts, are not burrowing tunnels because Gaza has no port. They are burrowing them despite the fact it does not have one.

After all, Gaza does have a modern port, under Israeli supervision, at its disposal barely 35 km. north of it, in Ashdod.

Under conditions of peace (or even credible non-belligerency), Ashdod can supply all Gaza’s supervised civilian needs, without squandering billions on a fanciful floating island port.

However, under conditions of on-going belligerency, even under the strictest Israeli supervision, there is no way—short of taking control of Gaza—to ensure that dual purpose material such as cement, fertilizer and steel will not be used for belligerent objectives

.

“Hamas stealing 95% of civilian cement…” The intensity of this problem—and the futility of a Gaza port as a means of solving ,or even alleviating it, was vividly highlighted  by a recent report in the International Business Times (May 26).

It cited the director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dr. Dore Gold, who speaking at the UN World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, revealed that Hamas has been siphoning off 95% of the cement transferred into the Gaza Strip intended to rebuild homes, so that it can use it for military purposes and tunnel construction. Gold told the conference: “From our own investigations we found that out of every 100 sacks of cement that come into the Gaza strip … only five or six are transferred to civilians.”

So, even if the island port were under tight inspection, how could Israel ensure that the building materials that went to construct the recently discovered tunnels would be used for more benign purposes? How could it ensure that steel was not being used to fabricate missiles and the means to launch them? Or fertilizers being diverted for the manufacture of explosives?

Moreover, one might also ask how, as opposed to the case of Ashdod port,  is Israeli supervision to be maintained, and the safety of the Israeli personnel be ensured in the isolated off-shore port, should they–as is far from implausible–be set upon by a bloodthirsty local mob?

 

Humanitarian solution for humanitarian crisis The grave economic situation that plagues Gaza will not be alleviated by giving Gaza access to port facilities, which it, in principle, already has available to it.

As noted earlier, Israeli restrictions on the flow of goods are not the cause of Arab enmity, but the consequence thereof. The crippling unemployment, reportedly above 40%, will not be alleviated by transferring Israeli supervision from Ashdod and the Gaza border crossings to an off-shore islet.

There is soaring unemployment because any creative energies that might exist, are not channeled by those who rule Gaza toward productive/constructive goals, but into fomenting violence against the hated “Zionist entity.” A port will not change those realities.

Indeed, it is likely to exacerbate them.

The penury of the enclave is not due to lack of resources, but to the preferences and priorities of the brigands who govern it, and as events have shown, the only way Israel can determine who governs Gaza – and who does not – is by governing it itself.

Katz, Galant and IDF senior brass are , of course, right that Israel should defuse the brewing humanitarian crisis in Gaza – which is demonstrably the consequence of the ill-conceived two-state approach and misguided attempts to foist statehood on the Palestinian-Arabs.

But it is a humanitarian crisis that requires a genuine humanitarian solution: Generously funded humanitarian relocation of the non-belligerent Arab population elsewhere, out of harm’s way, and extension of Israeli sovereignty over the region.

 

“Perhaps now would be a good time…

Indeed, there is no other approach –whether with a port or without it — that can:

• Provide a durable solution to the problem of Gaza;

• Eliminate the threat to Israel continually issuing from Gaza; and

• Preclude the need for Israel to “rule over another people.”

Indeed, as one appraisal of the port proposal in the Jewish Press (March 24)  concluded its critique “Perhaps now would be a good time to put into action one of those programs that advocate paying local Arabs to [e]migrate to better places..”

Indeed, perhaps it is.

Dr. Martin Sherman

Gaza Fisherman Arrested, Reveals Hamas Used Him to Smuggle Weapons

Monday, May 16th, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Gaza Border (TPS) – A Gazan fisherman involved in weapons smuggling into Gaza was arrested in April and has revealed detailed information on Hamas’ attempts to utilize fishermen for military purposes, the Shin Bet announced on Monday.

Salim Gamal Hasan Na’aman, 39 years old from the Shati Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, worked as a fisherman and was arrested by IDF naval forces after exiting the permitted fishing area.

In his interrogation, Na’aman revealed that he has long been involved in the smuggling of weapons and arms meant for Hamas and other terror organizations in Gaza. His sea-smuggling operation moved ammunition into Gaza, including liquid fiberglass used to produce rockets, the Shin Bet said.

Na’aman also revealed details of Hamas operational maritime plans “to utilize fishermen to conceal its activities,” the Shin Bet said. Additional information revealed by Na’aman pertained to maritime routes used to smuggle goods from Egypt into Gaza, and to the use made of fishermen and smugglers along the routes.

“The information discovered in this investigation, as well as in the investigations of additional Hamas terror operatives recently arrested, reveals another small part of the many efforts by Hamas to advance its violent terror actions,” said a statement by the Shin Bet. “This time, the Hamas efforts exploit the fact that Israel has eased the restrictions on the Gaza fishermen.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Bill Clinton: ‘I Killed Myself to Give Palestinians a State’ [video]

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Campaigning on Friday for his wife, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, in Ewing Township, NJ, former president Bill Clinton told his audience “I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state,” Politico reported.

When a person in the audience yelled, “What about Gaza?” Clinton responded, “She and the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt stopped the shooting war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.”

“She said neutrality is not an option,” the person in the crowd yelled back, meaning the US would always be on israel’s side.

“Depends on whether you care what happens to the Palestinians, as opposed to the Hamas government and the people with guided missiles,” Clinton said.

“They were human beings in Gaza,” the same audience member said.

“Yes, they were,” Clinton replied. “And Hamas is really smart. When they decide to rocket Israel, they insinuate themselves in the hospitals, in the schools, in the highly populous areas, and they are smart. They said they try to put Israelis in a position of either not defending themselves or killing innocents. They’re good at it. They’re smart. They’ve been doing this a long time.”

The audience responded with cheers to the Clinton comeback.

Then Bill Clinton said, “I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state. I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza.”

And then some.

David Israel

IDF, Police, Foil Overnight Attempt to Celebrate Independence Day in Ruined Settlement

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Hundreds of Jewish patriots, including many who had been evicted from the two Jewish villages in Northern Samaria, Homesh and Sa-Nur, back in 2005, on Wednesday night, Israel’s 68th Independence Day, went back to revisit their demolished homes, only to be blocked by military and police forces.

The large group ran into several barricades which had been positioned by IDF soldiers in every possible access road to Sa-Nur, including roads leading from local Arab villages.

The event was planned as a combination celebration/protest, demanding to let Jews return to their old homes, from which they had been exiled by the Sharon government, with tacit approval from then Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The expulsion of Jews from north Samaria was done at the same time as thousands more Jews were forced out of the Gaza Strip.

The name Sa-Nur is a Hebrew paraphrase of the name of the nearby Arab village Sanur. The Hebrew name was proposed by the late composer/songwriter Naomi Shemer, and it means Carry a Light. The community was established in October 1977 and destroyed on August 23, 2005.

The families and their supporters who tried to return home argued that many who at the time supported the “disengagement” — the laundered name for the forced expulsion of more than 8,000 Jews — today recognize it was an abysmal failure that led to three consecutive wars in Gaza. “There’s no reason, from a security or a moral point of view, not to let the people of Homesh and Sa-Nur come home.”

Indeed, what would better express Israel’s independence than allowing the thriving communities of northern Samaria thrive again.

MK Bezalel Smotrich, who participated in the interrupted event, issued a statement saying, “There is no better fitting day than Independence Day for returning to the settlement of Sa-Nur to celebrate there our state’s independence. No demand is more righteous than the demand of these families. With God’s help, we will merit once more to return to our settlements and renew our independence across the Land of Israel. Happy Independence Day.”

JNi.Media

Drop in a Bucket: US Giving Gaza $50 Million in Aid Over 5 Years

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

The United States on Monday announced a $50 million aid program for the Gaza Strip, AP reported. The money, distributed by the US Agency for International Development in partnership with Catholic Relief Services over five years, will be used for humanitarian assistance and jobs creation. Unemployment in Gaza is estimated at more than 40%.

Donald A. Blome, the US consul general in Jerusalem, said the money will help pay for “the dire needs that are obvious in Gaza.”

No one in the State Dept. on this occasion addressed the green elephant in the tent, namely the fact that Hamas has squandered millions of its assets on war preparations against Israel, while Gaza has become today’s metaphor for poverty and neglect.

According to the World Bank’s fact sheet, economic activity in Gaza remains volatile and almost entirely dependent on aid and remittances, with growth rates determined by (i) the level of aid inflows and (ii) the degree of trade restrictions. Gaza’s final consumption is 1.6 times larger than its GDP, and its investment a mere 5 percent of GDP, predominantly in housing. Estimated exports are very low at less than five percent of GDP. Gaza’s GDP per capita is half of that in the PA, and its poverty rate is roughly twice as high as those in the PA.

According to the PA Ministry of National Economy, Gaza has sustained damages of roughly $3 billion since initiation of the 2014 conflict with Israel.

The Palestinian Food Industries Union estimates that Gaza’s food industry has suffered damages estimated at around $150 million, with many factories in inoperable condition. The largest factories that used to provide up to 70% of local market needs were destroyed and will face a slow rebuilding process, as access to construction materials will likely be limited.

Data collected by the PA’s Gaza Coastal Municipal Water Utility (CMWU) and Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) indicates a significant shortage of water services and a severe public health threat to the population of Gaza.

The energy crisis in Gaza has been identified as a primary constraint to economic development even prior to the current conflict. The capacity of Gaza’s only power plant (GPP) was restricted by limited fuel availability due to the trade restrictions and a poor distribution network. The GPP remains inoperable to date and power outages of up to 18 hours a day continue in most areas across Gaza. This has exacerbated the already challenging electricity sector situation in Gaza. Electricity network damage of an estimated $42.5 million has been sustained.

So the $50 million over 5 years from the US should work miracles.

David Israel

IAF Hits Hamas Targets on Saturday Following Hamas Rocket Attacks

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

The Israeli Air Force attacked buildings in Khan Younis, southern Gaza on Saturday following overnight rocket strikes launched from Gaza.

The Gazan buildings were reportedly connected to Hamas’s military wing.

One rocket from Gaza landed in the Eshkol region, the second near the border fence.

There were no injuries or damage reported from the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

Hamas has been launching mortars and now missiles at Israel for the past few days, after Israel began uncovering and destroying terror tunnels leading from Gaza to nearby Israeli communities.

Jewish Press News Briefs

IAF Attacks Hamas Targets in Gaza

Friday, May 6th, 2016

At 9:30 AM, the IDF announced that the Air Force attacked Hamas infrastructure targets in southern Gaza.

The attacks were in response to the multiple mortar attacks by Hamas against IDF forces uncovering Hamas terror tunnels along the Gaza border over the past few days.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/iaf-attacks-hamas-targets-in-gaza/2016/05/06/

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