Strangled in Gaza
In the coming elections, Israelis will be voting not only for themselves, but also for the 3.5 million occupied Palestinians - and along the way will affect the lives of Egypt's citizens, as well.
In the elections, Israelis will not be voting just for themselves. Not only will they choose parties that affect their own lives for four years, but also those of 3.5 million occupied Palestinians - as they have done for 39 years now. The winners in Israel will form a government that will determine the most minute details of every Palestinian's life.
This is the essence of occupation. One people casts its votes and thereby authorizes its democratic government to be a dictator in a place that it rules by military hegemony. In that place there lives a separate nation that is entirely excluded from any rights in this democratic game.
For the past two months the dictator democratically elected by the Israeli public has determined that Gaza's residents should go on a "diet," as Attorney Dov Weissglas advised the cabinet, immediately after Hamas' election victory.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz decided that Gaza's residents should eat less and less fresh produce and dairy produce, then less and less rice and then no bread.
By closing the Karni crossing to merchandise for prolonged periods, Mofaz intervened (as a cabinet representative) not only in the Palestinians' eating habits. He also sent tens of thousands of Gazan Palestinians on unpaid leave. Drivers, merchants, porters, sewing workshop workers, farmers, construction workers and contractors, whose materials are not arriving, are all out of work. The already large number of people dependent on charity in Gaza will grow. The chain reaction will affect every family's life and choices: the children's education, medical treatment, visiting relatives, building an additional room to alleviate the crowded conditions at home.
No elected Palestinian government, headed by Hamas or Fatah, has ever intervened in everyday life to such an extent, or had such an influence on it.
At Israel's order, the Palestinian security branches dug four tunnels with a total length of 1.5 kilometers, but did not find the suspected tunnel that served as the rationale for closing the merchandise terminal. On the day five kilos of explosive was found on Road No. 1 in a car carrying Palestinians - security explanations are all Israelis want to hear.
Since the disengagement Israel has claimed that "Gaza is no longer occupied territory," so whatever happens there is not its responsibility. This version is more palatable to Israelis than hearing that Israel's control over the Palestinians' life in Gaza has ended; that Gaza is only one part of the Palestinian territory and that its population, economy and health and education institutions are tied to those in the West Bank; and that the international community has decided that the Palestinian state would be established on both parts, Gaza and the West Bank.
But the Israeli voter scorns the international community's choices. It has decided that Gaza would be "returned" to Egypt. That is the logical meaning of closing the Karni crossing for a long time - after the number of Palestinians passing through the Erez crossing has already dwindled. Even if international pressure enables bringing "humanitarian" aid through the Karni crossing here and there - as though Gaza had been struck by natural disaster - Israel's leaders will probably close it again for "security reasons."
All this is intended to accustom Gaza residents and the international community to think that perhaps it is logical to direct Gaza's products, business and plans southward, to Egypt, which will not be able to remain idle while almost 1.5 million Arabs are being strangled under the Israeli siege.
Thus Israelis will not be voting only on the Palestinians' fate, but will also intervene in the lives of Egypt's citizens.