Friday, April 21, 2006

Israel considers reoccupying Gaza

Israel has stated that it will reoccupy Gaza if Hamas continues to allow cross border rocket attacks into Israeli territory.

Major-General Yoav Galant, who heads Israel’s southern command, said he was considering a range of options including the possibility of re-entering Gaza.

However, sources within the Senior General Staff told Haaretz that it was still too early for a head-on confrontation with the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas led government. They further stated that Israel is “scoring points” in the international arena in view of its restraint following the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

In addition, IDF commanders believe that Hamas will have trouble trying to secure funds that they require to run the Palestinian Authority and to pay the wages of some 160,000 public sector workers.

Indeed, the US and the EU have officially cut off aid as well as diplomatic contact with the PA until Hamas renounce violence and ceases calling for the destruction of Israel.

Both bodies stated that they will continue to help the Palestinian population meet their basic needs by proposing to reallocate part of these funds to the UN and other international relief bodies in order to offset the human and social consequences of their sanctions.

But the humanitarian medical group MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors without Borders) considers this proposal unacceptable. MSF is concerned with the far-reaching socio-economic future of the population already sorely tested by years of conflict and occupation.

There is widespread concern that the hardship will worsen. This concern is no more apparent than in the Gaza Strip where nearly half of the 1.4 million residents are already below the poverty line.

Both the UN and OXFAM have warned of a potential dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

According to Iain Guest who wrote in electronic intifada:

“Canada, Australia, the United States and the European Union have all announced their intention to boycott the PNA, in an effort to force Hamas to recognize Israel and join the peace process. These governments appear to have few qualms about using aid as a blunt political instrument. They feel that any harm to Palestinians can be mitigated by providing humanitarian aid through the UN and nongovernmental organizations.

This policy is fraught with risk. In the first place, it is certain to increase the pressure on ordinary Palestinians – the exact reverse of what is intended. Sanctions always fall most heavily on the poor, as we saw in Cambodia, the former Yugoslavia, Haiti, and of course in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The tougher the sanctions, the easier it is for those in power to exploit their monopoly over scarce resources.”

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