Rockets close the border
Closure of border crossings between Gaza and Israel are causing undeniable humanitarian and economic distress to the Palestinian population in Gaza.
These crossings have proved very difficult for Israel to control, frequently being used as smuggling points for the infiltration of terrorists and their deadly weapons into Israel. The problem was vividly highlighted by the capture of Wafa al-Bass, at the Erez checkpoint just last year. She was sent by Fatah's Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, with 20 pounds of explosives sewn into her underwear, to blow herself up in Soroka hospital in Israel's southern city of Beersheva. She wanted to kill herself together with fellow patients and the Palestinian and Israeli doctors, who had spent so many months helping her to recover from severe accident-induced burns.
Recent focus has been on the Karni border crossing, which is close to fields from which barrages of rockets are fired at Israel by local Palestinian "militants". Israel also claims to have concrete intelligence about threats to attack this crossing point, and has advised that the alternative crossing point of Kerem Shalom on the three-way joint border with Egypt provides an alternate route.
Israel claims that the PA has rejected this alternative for "non substantive reasons", presumably to use Gazan suffering as a tool in the propaganda and physical war against Israel. Israel has made it clear that as soon as the security threat subsides and the shelling stops, Karni can be reopened. Over the weekend, another bevy of shells was sent towards Israel, one striking the electricity plant in Ashkelon, which also supplies electricity to Gaza.
Last Thursday, Aljazeera.net reported on the closures of the border.
The uncontrolled barrage of rockets from Gaza into Israel, are belittled as they only "rarely cause any casualties". It also denigrates Israel's promises to re-open the border crossing as soon as quiet is restored. As the acts of war continue, Israel is berated as "breaking promises" and indulging in "collective punishment".
However, once the propaganda is discounted, it becomes clear, even from the Al-Jazeera report, that Israel takes legitimate and legal steps to protect its citizens and its borders. These steps, in turn, inevitably cause dire distress to the Palestinian civilian population. If the Kassam rockets and terror are stopped, the borders can be opened. Palistinian agricultural produce can cross over quickly and with ease, finding their speedy way to international markets, enhancing Palestinian prosperity.
As the World Bank has stressed time and again, the onus is on the Palestinian leadership, who must fulfill its Roadmap obligations to prevent attacks on Israeli civilians. Israel has shown in the past that it will immediately respond by relieving restrictions on the flow of goods and people and allowing market access to Palestinian producers.
Aside from the logic of how one behaves toward a people and regime that have declared themselves to be at war with you, one has to ask whether the Palestinians genuinely expect Israel to open its borders to the unbridled risk of a return to the suicide bombings of the last few years – as has happened every time it has shown such goodwill?
What seems to be missing is responsible journalism, highlighting the distress of the average Palestinian – and squarely placing the blame where it rightly belongs: on the Palestinian leadership of the last decade, that has exploited the indifference of Western politicians to vast sums of their taxpayers' aid money being used to support a terrorist war against Israeli civilians, at the expense of the Palestinian population.