March 03, 2009 “The Guardian”
Pledging aid for Gaza is the easy bit. Getting it delivered to Gazans living in tents after Israel’s three-week bombardment is another matter. The $3bn that donors promised in Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday will have to penetrate a labyrinth of barriers and conditions, the complexity of which King Minos of Crete would have been proud. The money will be given to the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, even though the PA’s writ does not run in Gaza. The aid will pass through crossings currently closed by Israel. It will be distributed in such a manner as to avoid ending up in the hands of its governors. But how? This is like trying to spoon a thin gruel into a dying man, without letting it touch any part of his throat.
Forget the difficulty of getting macaroni or paper into Gaza, neither of which fell into Israel’s definition of humanitarian aid. How can the 14,000 homes, 219 factories, 240 schools, which Israel destroyed, or damaged, be repaired without cement? Cement, Israel argues, has a dual use. It can be used to build Hamas’s bunkers and tunnels, although the dual use of macaroni and paper is harder to fathom. But why repair Gaza’s infrastructure, if Israeli warplanes could return at any moment to destroy it again? Operation Cast Lead did not re-establish Israeli deterrence over Hamas and Gaza’s other rejectionist groups. About 120 rockets and mortars have been fired into southern Israel since the army withdrew. Which means, short of re-occupation and putting the leadership of Hamas on a boat to Tripoli, the only way to stop the rockets is political, not military.