Opinion

How to Solve the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

Maybe international inspectors could make sure that resources from abroad go where they’re supposed to go, not to Hamas' nefarious projects

Palestinian children wait to receive free porridge in Gaza City, May 31, 2018.
Adel Hana / AP

There is little doubt that the massive demonstrations at the Gaza fence these past few weeks and the resulting casualties are directly related to the humanitarian crisis of the Palestinians in the Strip. Amid this desperation, it’s easy for Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, to deflect the people’s anger away from them and turn it against Israel, with the vain promise that the people can escape their situation by breaking through the fence and returning to the homes of their ancestors in Israel. And if that seems impossible, why not try to burn Israel to the ground while you’re at it?

As for gaining sympathy around the world, where there is little sympathy for a massive return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, the alternate objective of breaking the Gaza blockade, presumably imposed by Israel and Egypt, seems like a worthy and credible objective that should arouse sympathy in much of the world. After all, why not lift the blockade of Gaza?

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Is it the limited access to Gaza that is responsible for the humanitarian crisis there, or is the limited access the direct result of Hamas’ policies toward Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority?

The inescapable conclusion is that Hamas is deliberately causing the closure of the Israeli and Egyptian entry points into Gaza by rocketing Israel and building tunnels into Israel, and forestalling assistance from the PA, thereby creating a humanitarian crisis for the people of Gaza. This is in line with the Palestinian propaganda to create the impression that the Palestinians are the victims of Israeli inhumanity, but it’s taken to the extreme by Hamas’ sending women and children to the fence in the expectation (or is it the hope?) that they will be wounded or killed.

To the extent that Hamas is representative of the feelings and aspirations of the Palestinians in Gaza, the Strip may very well have a “government of the people.” It’s not a “government by the people,” and most certainly Hamas does not govern for the benefit of the people.

In that sense it’s like the worst Arab rulers in recent years. It ranks right next to Syria’s Bashar Assad, who is butchering his own people with the excuse that he’s fighting terrorism, and the Islamic State, which in the name of its version of the Islamic religion is beheading those who do not fit its description of true Islam.

Hamas is following the slogan of the revolutionaries in the days of czarist Russia: “the worse the better.” The worse the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza, the more likely Palestinian victimhood will be recognized around the world and Israeli inhumanity will be blamed for it, and this presumably will bring the destruction of Israel closer.

It’s being suggested that Israel negotiate with Hamas. Negotiate about what? Lifting the blockade? Well, that’s easy and requires no negotiations. All Hamas has to do is abandon its plans for aggression against Israel, improve its relations with Egypt, and reach an accommodation with the PA — and the entry points from Israel and Egypt will be open, and the assistance from the PA will begin to flow.

Obviously, this Hamas is not prepared to do. It insists that the Gaza Strip be a platform for attacks against Israel — a springboard to be used for the destruction of Israel. So what’s left to negotiate?

What might improve the desperate situation of the Palestinians in Gaza would be an international effort aimed at rehabilitating the area. Maybe international inspectors supervising this assistance could make sure that the resources intended for the civilian population are not diverted to Hamas’ nefarious projects. Is the international community prepared to take on such a project?