06/04/2012

The state of Gaza’blockade after the first regional geopolitical transformations

Only connected to the rest of the world through two entry points strictly controlled by Israel, Erez, on the israeli side, and Rafah on the Egyptian side, Gaza is an entrenched and impoverished territory since the blockade imposed by Israel in 2007. Two years after the Israeli withdrawal, the decision made in Tel Aviv followed the violent takeover by Hamas of the Gaza Strip. Since then, Israel has tightened the noose reducing the number of truckloads of food from 12,350 per month before the blockade, to 4,000 in 2010. Since then, Gaza continues the records of all kinds: 40% unemployment, 80% of the population lives below the poverty line, less than $ 2 per day. While trucks enter Gaza every day contrary to popular belief, poverty and confinement of the territory continues to be a tool of political pressure and manipulation of both sides of the border, run by Hamas as by Israelis. Many Western NGOs were present in Gaza until 2005, a number stayed on, but Hamas makes their work difficult.

WHO speaks today of nearly 200 NGOs that have packed up since 2007.
Gazans still do not have the right to export their goods, or to fish beyond 5 km from sea. This would allow them to survive largely. Meanwhile, they banned the import of products as harmless to Israel’s security as: coriander, A4 paper, cumin, fresh meat, dried fruit, goats … or chicks. These same NGOs say they consider the land blockade clearly illegal. From the moment it is declared unilaterally by Israel for reasons of self-defense, then it should at least respect the elementary rules of international humanitarian law. This is not the case according to them. Indeed, a blockade must be used to compel a government not to arm or rearm to attack, not punish a population: it is the content of Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention which denounces any collective punishment. This does not preclude the supply of goods into Gaza, but four times lower than before the blockade. The case of the Gaza flotilla that attempted to break the blockade in May 2010 makes the current situation more complex and reveals the impotence of law. The UN, through the Palmer report, recognize that the naval blockade by the Israeli navy is not illegal and that for security reasons the Israeli Navy could land on the Mavi Marmara in international waters. For what constitutes a legalistic act of piracy and is against the Article 51 of the UN Charter, which authorizes only in self defense. However, Israel did not seem threatened by the operation.

The ambiguous involvement of the international community succeeds in stirring up trouble, claiming a humanitarian side, which do not respect international law on the other. The situation in Gaza is now a look through the prism of the major regional transformation that takes place: victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (which provide not want to jeopardize the peace treaty with Israel while claiming to want to improve circulation to the position Rafah), which could destabilize Hamas which losing the next election against the Palestinians to end, changing relations between Turkey and Israel who become abrasive. Gaza and its people may well be a long time the costs of the failures of international law and realpolitik. Meanwhile, the cycle resumed retaliatory attacks in Gaza in mid-March leaving dozens dead, the Israeli bombardment following the launch of new rockets of Hamas in the south.

Sebastien Boussois