3 Important Things to Know about the “Gaza Siege”

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Almost every media report on the current conflict will mention a “Gaza siege,” or “blockade of Gaza,” that Israel allegedly has maintained on the Gaza Strip since Hamas took power.

A few examples from recent days:

CNN:

But Israel has been criticized for sealing the borders, with aid groups saying the blockade has cut off basic supplies and created a humanitarian crisis.

And also in this article

For Hamas any deal must include what it calls the “lifting of the siege” — the blockade of Gaza that has turned it into an open prison for the last eight years.

New York Times

Even before the war, Gaza’s humanitarian situation was precarious. An Israeli-Egyptian blockade meant to weaken Hamas had decimated the economy, and half the population depended on food aid.

BBC

Hamas, which controls Gaza, says it will not stop fighting until the blockade, maintained by both Israel and Egypt, is lifted.

However, there’s a few salient facts that should be kept in mind when references are made to the border situation.

1) Since Hamas came to power in Gaza in 2005, it has openly declared hostility and launched thousands of rockets into Israel. Is there any example on Earth where two warring parties have completely open borders with each other?

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2) There has been no blockade on basic food items, medicine, and other humanitarian goods. Since Hamas came to power, trucks pass over the border with Israel almost every day, laden with these supplies. There have been no reports of starvation or health epidemics in Gaza. Even during the current conflict, supplies of humanitarian goods enter Gaza almost every day. Again, how often does one party in a conflict try and feed and provide medical services to the ones attacking it?

3) Perhaps the most important question is this: If the borders were truly “sealed,” how did Hamas manage to import an estimated 800 tons of concrete and 10,000 rockets? Think how many schools, hospitals, and apartments could have been built using the steel and concrete that instead went to build offensive weapons and sophisticated tunnels under the border.

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The bottom line is that there is and has never been a complete “Gaza siege.” However, Israel must make every effort to try and prevent materials that Hamas uses for warfare from entering the strip. If the current border restrictions still allowed Hamas to build up an arsenal of 10,000 rockets and create over thirty tunnels into Israel, one can only imagine what they would do with a completely open border.

Image:</strong> CC BY-NC-SA flickr/Hunter Luisi</em>


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