Thursday, October 17, 2013

17-Oct-13: Lessons learned now we know why all that cement was needed

Elliott Abrams, writing today on the blog site of the Council on Foreign Relations, reflects on that story of the destruction by the IDF of an elaborate and expensive tunnel running from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into Israel. We wrote about it here: "13-Oct-13: Gazan tunnels: what lies beneath the surface". 

Abrams begins with a review of the pressure put onto Israel in 2010 following the Mavi Marmara affair in which a Turkish vessel, provocatively bent on violating Israel’s defensive blockade of Gaza and carrying zero humanitarian cargo, was forcibly stopped by Israeli naval forces. Several people were killed. 
The incident did Hamas some good: the violence and the publicity increased pressure on Israel to loosen the terms of  the blockade. Already in 2009 Pope Benedict had offered his prayers that the embargo would be lifted so that reconstruction could move faster, and in March 2010 Ban Ki-Moon had said that the Gaza blockade was causing “unacceptable suffering.” On June 1, the day after the ship was seized, Secretary of State Clinton said “the situation in Gaza is unsustainable and unacceptable… Palestinians’ legitimate needs for… regular access for reconstruction materials must… be assured.” She pressed Israeli officials to allow more building materials to enter Gaza, as did British Foreign Secretary William Hague. Former President Carter visited Gaza two weeks later and said the embargo causes “death, destruction, pain and suffering to the people here.” The Quartet called “for a lifting of the blockade on Gaza so that crucial reconstruction work can take place….” And this was the trope from virtually every EU government. And so the cement flowed; Israel lifted its ban
Now, as Abrams points out, we know what was actually happening. Housing and hospitals were built? Nope. Reconstruction of vital facilities? Nope again. Tunnels, and in particular a very serious one, sixty feet beneath the earth's surface, and 1.5 miles long, entirely dedicated to enabling a terrorist attack on Israel.
Construction appears to have been started two years ago—after cement began to flow into Gaza... What’s interesting here is not Hamas acting as Hamas always does: as a terrorist group that is uninterested in the welfare of the people of Gaza. What’s interesting is the number of proponents of lifting the blockade of Gaza who have now admitted error. The number appears to be zero. Not one has acknowledged that allowing construction materials into Gaza allowed Hamas to construct more tunnels, and that Israel may have been right to prevent their arrival. Being a critic of Israel apparently means never having to say you’re sorry.
Can you think of a single reason why Hamas will not try to do the very same thing again?

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