Gaza Strip lacks effective leadership
There are people suffering in Gaza. This is undeniable, and I truly wish it were not the case. The real questions are why this is happening, and how can this situation can be rectified. It is very easy to be blinded by our natural desire to help those who are suffering without first identifying the best way to do so. Misdirection will just encourage the current situation in Gaza to continue.
The people of Gaza suffer because of their leadership. Israel withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005, almost causing a civil war among its own people in the process. A power struggle ensued between Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian political parties, culminating in a bloody victory for Hamas in June 2007. Instead of building an infrastructure in Gaza for a functioning modern society, Hamas instilled fear among its people through brutal murders of people accused of being against the government and funneled any money it received from foreign aid into the construction of tunnels under Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel. These tunnels were then used to receive long-range Russian and Iranian made rockets from Egypt and subsequently to attack Israel.
Several hundred rockets per month were fired in the first half of 2008 at Israel. I was in Jerusalem at the time, and my school took in numerous southern families with young children who had dropped everything and ran. I will never forget the frozen look on one 4-year-old girl’s face as she heard a fire alarm and ran for cover, thinking that a rocket was coming.
To defend itself against the barrage of rockets attacking its civilians and to prevent further arms-smuggling through the tunnels, Israel began Operation Cast Lead in December 2008. After a mere three weeks, Israel once again left the Gaza strip. While it restricts the flow of weapons and people into and from Gaza, Israel almost immediately began the flow of humanitarian aid.
According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2009 alone, Israel’s shipments included more than 738,000 tons of food and supplies, 4,883 tons of medical equipment and medicine, and more than 3,000 tons of hypochlorite for water purification to Gaza. In just the first three months of 2010, Israel sent 40,000 tons of wheat, 1,987 tons of clothing and shoes, 553 tons of milk powder and baby food, and many other necessary items. The aid from Israel has continued, and it has since sent millions of tons of supplies including food, medicine, building materials and cars to Gaza. Israel even increases the shipment amounts around holidays, sending 11,000 heads of cattle for the Muslim holy days of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha.
This may surprise those of you who insist on viewing Israel as the cause of the suffering in Gaza. Despite continued Hamas rocket attacks, Israel is attempting to help the people of Gaza. Just more than a month ago on March 12, Hamas terrorists bombed the Israeli supply trucks entering Gaza in an attempt to prevent the aid from coming in. After a brief suspension, the Israeli transfer of goods to Gaza continued.
Why would Hamas, the leaders of the people of Gaza, bomb the very food and supplies that would help its own people? The answer is both shocking and disturbing. Hamas wants its people to suffer. It already proved its lack of care for the welfare of the people of Gaza immediately after attaining power in 2007, when political murders were the norm and international aid was abused. Hamas wants the international recognition and sympathies garnered by a subjugated people who need food and medical attention. Preventing Israel from helping the people of Gaza furthers Hamas’ political agenda.
Israel has demonstrated time and again that it cares for the welfare of the people of Gaza, despite their terroristic leadership and continued attacks by Hamas against Israel. Hamas, through its subjugation of its own people and its encouragement of terrorism, has caused, and will continue to allow for its peoples’ suffering. If you truly care about the welfare of the people in Gaza, you would stop blindly blaming Israel and instead call for the downfall of Hamas.
Jordana Gilbert is a School of Engineering junior majoring in biomedical engineering.