Israel loosens its 3-year stranglehold on Gaza
International pressure has forced Israel to ease its blockade on the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Could this be a step towards lasting peace?
The Israeli government has announced that it will be relaxing its controversial blockade on the Gaza Strip, allowing many more goods to cross the territory’s tightly controlled border.
The Gaza Strip, which has a population of 1.5 million Palestinians, was occupied by Israel after the Six Day War over land rights in 1967. But in 2005, Israel withdrew its troops. Two years later, Hamas – a militant organization with a history of terrorist attacks on Israel as a response to the occupation – gained control of the contested territory.
In response, Israel imposed a blockade. Gaza’s airport was destroyed. Sea routes into the territory were closed. And only a very restricted range of goods was allowed to cross the land borders. Gaza’s economy quickly collapsed. The blockade led to a shortage of medical services, food, water, housing and education for Palestinians in Gaza.
Hamas stayed in power, and the conflict with Israel showed no signs of lessening. In 2008, a steady bombardment of (mostly ineffective) rocket attacks from Hamas provoked Israel to embark on a massive military incursion into Gaza.
More than a thousand Palestinians were killed and many thought Israel had gone too far.
So this year, when Israeli commandos killed nine activists while raiding a flotilla of aid ships, which were trying to break through the Gaza blockade with supplies for Palestinian civilians, governments around the world were horrified.
So now Israel has finally bowed to international pressure and loosened the blockade.
Cause to celebrate?
Some see it as a humiliating defeat for Israel whose, usually close, relationship with the USA is under strain. Hamas, they say, will get stronger. Attacks across the border will increase. There has been wrongful interference with Israel’s right to defend itself.
But others are celebrating. The “siege” of Gaza by Israel was an unfair punishment of all Palestinians for the crimes of a few. They argue, by destroying Gaza’s economy, Israel created a generation of young men with no jobs and a lot of anger and resentment who took up arms against oppression. If Gaza is allowed to prosper, they say, its people will turn to peace.
- Hamas rocket attacks killed very few people, but were aimed at killing innocent civilians. The Israeli response was aimed only at enemy fighters, but hundreds of civilians were killed by accident. Which is worse? Are both equally bad?
- In the Israel-Palestine conflict, both sides justify aggression by pointing at examples of aggression from the other side. Is this a good justification?
- Do you think that Britain should send aid to the people of Gaza?
- Is it ever right to take up arms to defend your freedom?
Some People Say...
“I beat the people from China. I win against China. You can win against China if you're smart.”Donald Trump
What do you think?