Another day, another essay, another refusal to recognize reality in Gaza.
This time the remarks come from one Mohammed Omer, an independent journalist in Gaza, via the op-ed page of The New York Times.
The piece is titled “Gaza, Gulag on the Mediterranean” and it is timed for one year after the end of Israel’s seven-week war in Gaza, Operation Protective Edge.
Like uncountable similarly written pieces, it begins from incorrect assumptions and comes to incorrect conclusions.
The headline reference to the gulag is Israel’s blockade of Gaza. It omits the point that the blockade reflects Israel’s determination to protect itself against the Strip’s Hamas rulers, who have made clear that they will not back down from their determination to destroy this country.
All together now: The force that is oppressing Gaza is Hamas, not Israel.
Point by point through Omer’s piece:
1. The author complains that in October 2014 the international community pledged $5.4 billion to rebuild Gaza and has not delivered even a small part of that sum.
The reason for this is Hamas. The international community recognizes that the organization will spend any aid money only to buy weapons and dig tunnels into Israel, not to build homes and infrastructure. No developed country can afford to simply toss hard currency into the flames of an organization so violent and corrupt.
2. The author says Gaza’s children are growing up “not in neighborhoods, but in ruins, as Israel continues to block sufficient reconstruction materials from entering Gaza.”
The reason is clear: Hamas uses construction materials to build extremely elaborate tunnels, with tracks and electric lighting, designed entirely to smuggle weaponry and to steal Israeli civilians and soldiers and hold them for ransom. (Link is here:https://www.idfblog.com/blog/2014/07/31/everything-need-know-hamas-underground-city-terror/)
3. Omer writes that “Palestinians in Gaza need economic development.” Of course they do. And they couldn’t have a better neighbor than Israel, the one honestly developed economy in the Middle East, to assist them in that endeavor.
But they are prevented from ever reaching anything approaching a normal economic life because their rulers don’t want them to have one. Hamas, fundamentally authoritarian and anti-freedom, is perfectly fine with keeping its people down at point of gun and educating them that Israel is the problem while diverting the world’s attention from its barbaric tactics with claims of “it’s the occupation.”
4. Omer says that the jihadist insurgency across the border in Egypt is making life in Gaza even more difficult. Egypt, no less than Israel, understands the danger that Hamas presents. That’s why it refuses to open the Rafah crossing for any extended length of time.
Somehow, Omer writes without irony that “Hamas officials understand that to limit the appeal of extremists, they must address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as well as maintain their claim to lead resistance to Israel’s action.”
Here, we have a fundamental definitional problem. Hamas is extremist. Its fighters don’t walk around cutting people’s heads off, but they do have the same permanently antagonistic view of Israel that Isis does, their killing techniques are no less deadly, they have no less contempt for average citizens, and their determination to destroy Israel is no less clear.
5. If Israel tomorrow lifted the blockade and opened its own borders, Hamas would become more, not less, determined to obliterate the Jewish State. Would that Omer and other journalists who are writing the same politically misplaced remarks would explain what Israel should do under these circumstances.
Somewhere along the line, the focus of the conversation must shift to the fact that if Gaza’s Arabs are ever to have a life, Hamas must completely change its approach to Israel or it must be destroyed. No one we know has any faith that the Hamas leopard is about to change its spots.
The onus must be on the rulers of Gaza to accept Israel and educate their people to accept Israel. Hamas must stop diverting Gaza’s money to a pointless and endless struggle against the one country in the region that stands willing and able to help bring the Gaza Strip into the modern world.
Omer says that Gaza’s people live in an “open-air prison.” The world’s leaders and journalists must recognize that Hamas, not Israel, is Gaza’s jailer.
All the complaining that the world has not made good on its promises to the Strip is so much wasted energy. The reason the world talks a lot and does nothing for Gaza is Hamas. Getting rid of the organization, or at least its Israel-destructive ideology, won’t solve the problem by itself, but it’s an absolute prerequisite for any long-term solution.
Read Mohammed Omer’s essay here.