Reflecting on the Crisis in Gaza
If you've been following the news reported from Israel in the past few weeks, aside from the now-released Winograd Report determining the culpability for the Israeli Defense Forces’ failure in the Second Lebanon War of Summer 2006, the biggest story is the ongoing crisis in Gaza. In the third week of January 2008, Israel went through with its threat to drastically reduce fuel supplies in response to ongoing rocket attacks on Sderot. This decision sent Gaza into an electricity emergency in which hospitals had to close down most wards save for intensive care. Again, coming to the rescue of the people, Hamas blasted several holes in the border wall separating Gaza and Egypt, allowing a reported 500,000 Gazans to pour into Egypt in search of a range of items from electronics and windows, to food, drinking water and cigarettes (for resale). A border was partially obliterated between the country of Egypt and the Gaza Strip. How interesting. Mark Palmer, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary when Communism collapsed, wrote a book in 2005, Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators. In his book, Palmer claims that, to catalyze socio-political change, overthrow any regime or dictator, half a million people need to hit the streets and maximize the media's coverage of the event. A group of human beings acting en masse simply can't go unnoticed or unaddressed if the world is watching. Considering the aftermath of the blast of the Egypt-Gaza border wall, I'm thinking his hypothesis is exciting but hardly accurate. In Gaza, I'm pretty sure not a whole lot will change in the coming weeks. Despite their success in gathering Mr. Palmer’s critical mass number for change, in the days after the border blasts, trips to the promised land of water and food, Egypt, became less and less fruitful. The Egyptian government demanded that owners not re-supply to meet the needs of the day-travelers from the Strip and eventually forced the small towns near the border to shut their shops. (Fascinating, that the Palestinian historical narrative will one day recall this event as something of a miraculous incident in which the fighters of Hamas managed to overcome the obstacles to survival, allowing the people of Palestine to be saved from starvation, as they fled into the land of Egypt-- as opposed to from the land of Egypt.) Yet, if President Hosni Mubarak causes more harm to the Palestinians, upsetting Muslim Brotherhood-led opposition in his own country, he may be faced by more than a half a million citizens only too ready to kick him out of his post by force. In this case, Mr. Palmer's formula may prove successful. It hasn't happened yet (emphasis on the yet), so we can't make any conclusions at this point in time. Anyhow, the border is now being resealed by Egypt. Back in Israel, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal made by the Israeli peace movement to lift restrictions on Gaza that cause undue harm to civilians. And, moreover, the Court declared that according to the evidence presented, Israel is acting only on behalf of its defense from a militant force in Gaza that is purposefully targeting innocent Israelis, and that Israel may continue to cut fuel supplies as it determines necessary to eliminate this threat to security. Meanwhile, one of Israel's worst nightmares is coming true as tens upon tens of Palestinians are going from Gaza to Egypt and back with weapons that they usually have to transport in underground tunnels. How convenient. On Saturday, February 1, 2008, Egyptian forces intercepted 20 Palestinian men carrying explosive devices for use in suicide bombings, trying to enter Israel through the Sinai. On Monday, February 4, 2008, one of two suicide bombers successfully detonated explosives, killing one Israeli woman and wounding several others in Dimona. The two men who carried out the mission were from Gaza. At least one of them had been back and forth from Egypt since Hamas opened the border with Egypt on January 23, 2008. I'm wondering if Hamas has set a precedent for all the struggling peoples of the world. If you've got the explosives, you can explode your way into a better life, or at least some relief for the time being. Is world order, or the semblance of it that we have today, really so precarious? What, exactly, is keeping the world together?