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RAFAH DILEMA

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Since Israel left Gaza Strip in summer 2005 her main concern was the massive arms smuggling through Rafah to Gaza. Israel feared that, with time, terror organizations in Gaza will obtain long range Katiusha rockets that will threaten not only Shderot and Ashkelon but also cities like Ashdod, Kiryat-Gat or Netivot with about 300,000 inhabitants. ( See – RAFAH CROSSING )

Therefore Israel, based on Oslo accords from 1993, tried to supervise from outside the trafficking of people and goods to Gaza, through third parties such as Egypt and the European Union, and became dependant on the good will and determination of those parties, which never really existed (see also – Rafah 02.20.07 ).

The same Olso accord also cast the responsibility on Israel for the Palestinian population. If Israel is authorizing each pack of cigarettes to Gaza – Israel is also responsible on the fuel, electricity and food for the population.

Eventually Israel was left with the humanitarian responsibility on Gaza without being able to influence or minimize the flood of weapon to Gaza Strip under the blind eyes of the EgyptianS. Israel found herself in a bizarre situation in which she is obliged to supply the Hamas in Gaza with the basic needs of the Palestinian population while the HAMAS, openly and publicly, declare their commitment to the destruction and annihilation of Israel and is facilitating daily shelling on Israeli villages along the Gaza border.

More then once the Palestinians used the humanitarian crisis, often deliberately staged, to prevent Israeli military operations, to raise supportive public opinions and to de-legitimize Israel. Actually the humanitarian situation became one of the Palestinian sources of strength in the constant struggle against Israel.

The Palestinian forceful break through Gaza border with Egypt in Rafah, on 01/23/2008, is a golden opportunity for Israel to abandon, officially, its demand to observe the Egyptian- Palestinian Border, which never materialized anyway and the concept of responsibility over Gaza population and shift the responsibility on the wellbeing and the supply of food, medicine and fuel for the Palestinians in Gaza to the Egyptian Authority.  

It is true that Israel will take a risk of an increasing flood of weapons to Gaza but, on the other hand, Israel can gain military and diplomatic flexibility to operate in Gaza.

The last days events prove that Hamas, despite its massive arming and training, is no match for the Israeli Army and Israel has still many military options in Gaza. But Israel never had a real answer to its humanitarian responsibility over 1.5 million Palestinians, many of them devoted to Israel destructions.

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