Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Gaza needs a unified Arab response

Posted by Alessandro Accorsi su 20 gennaio, 2009


The National

Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory with their respective unilaterally declared ceasefires, but it is difficult to see what they gained after 22 days of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip. Despite the assault, Hamas’s ability to launch rockets persists. As if to drive the point home, it launched 19 rockets into Israel while the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was announcing the ceasefire. Hamas, despite having survived the assault, now rules over a devastated populace. Thousands of residential buildings were destroyed and many more damaged by the ferocious bombardment, leaving tens of thousands without a home. Gaza’s infrastructure, already crippled by six months of an economic blockade, is largely non-functioning. Estimates for the cost of reconstruction rise into the billions of dollars. More than 1200 Gazans were killed. If these are the conditions for victory, one cringes to think what defeat would look like.

Israel may have to settle for a period of calm while Gazans remain too distracted by rebuilding efforts to launch attacks. However, Israel is hoping for more than that; its assault was intended to instil the fear into Hamas that every rocket it fired carried the risk of an overwhelming response. Known as the “Dahiya doctrine”, for the Shiite suburb of Beirut that was reduced to rubble during the 2006 war with Lebanon, this tactic of disproportionate force has been credited by Israel for deterring rocket attacks from Hizbollah. However, the greatest reason that Hizbollah has not launched rockets into Israel is probably not the fear of Israel, but the will of the Lebanese people. Unless the people of Gaza place a similar check on Hamas, no military measures short of an occupation will be sufficient to stem the rocket fire.

The failure of either Israel or Hamas to achieve any gains in this conflict makes the prospects for their unilateral truces rather grim. Thus it is incumbent upon the international community to shore up these measures in order to make them endure. Israel requires that the smuggling tunnels into Gaza from Egypt be closed. Ahead of Israel’s ceasefire declaration, the US signed an agreement to aid Egypt in its effort to fight smuggling. EU leaders who were present at the Gaza summit in Sharm el Sheikh on Sunday also pledged their support for these efforts. Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, offered the assistance of the Royal Navy to stop arms shipments to Gaza. International involvement in these efforts will both bolster their effectiveness and provide objective measures of their success.

Hamas wants the border crossing opened. However, its wishes will be complicated by its demand for control over the border crossing with Egypt. An offer by Turkey to provide a force to monitor the borders has been received favourably by Hamas, but Egypt has shown less enthusiasm for the proposal. While Hamas cannot be trusted to control the border crossing, Israel cannot be allowed to either. The only solution rests with a group of international monitors.

Many difficulties to addressing the crisis in Gaza have emerged from the parallel diplomatic efforts within the Muslim world. Turkey’s decision to attend a recently concluded summit in Doha, which favoured a hard-line stance towards Israel, has been viewed with suspicion by Egypt and its moderate allies.

Even though this week’s summit in Kuwait is directed towards economic co-operation, it presents an opportunity for Arab nations to forge a unified stance on Gaza. Without this, the Palestinians may never gain a means of effective self-determination.




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