Collective Punishment in Gaza

Eric Trager evidently deems it outrageous that I would have criticized the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip as an act of immoral collective punishment without having personally traveled to Israel before. I think the idea that you can’t have a well-founded opinion on an issue without having visited personally is a bit silly and now even though I’m in Israel I still haven’t been to Gaza and won’t be able to make it on this trip. I did, however, have dinner with John Ging who runs the UN operation in Gaza and he’s definitely a guy who’s been there. And guess what, he seems to think the blockade is an immoral and counterproductive form of collective punishment. Because guess what — it is.

Probably the clearest quick token of that fact is that the blockade prevents exports from Gaza. That doesn’t cut down on the smuggling of dangerous weapons into the area. It does, however, render the situation economically untenable since Gaza doesn’t contain sufficient arable land to provide subsistence for its population under a situation of autarky. The population necessarily remains impoverished and aid-dependent, with sky-high unemployment since there’s essentially no economy for people to participate it. This is a good way of making life harsh for the Strip’s residents, nearly half of whom are children, but that in turn is a good way of raising a new generation of anti-Israel extremists. It’s an insane and indefensible strategy if you can even call it a strategy.

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And just to show that it’s not only the Israeli government that’s capable of treating Gazans in an indefensible manner the very same Arab leaders who are most inclined to complain about the situation do almost nothing to provide the money the UN needs to keep the population fed. Instead it’s left up to the United States and to do the heavy lifting with a large assist from Norway.