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7 Questions for Defenders of Israel's Inhumane Siege of Gaza

The Gaza blockade has nothing to do with Israel defending itself.

Apologists for the brutal siege of Gaza base their defense largely on a single, spectacularly dishonest argument: that Israel is only trying to keep arms out of Gaza -- arms that Hamas might use against Israeli civilians.

It’s a red herring of monstrous proportions, made more pernicious by the brutal effects of the blockade it supports. It’s dishonest because people around the world are not outraged by the idea of Israel keeping weapons out of the hands of Hamas. The entire world (perhaps aside from the United States and Israel) is appalled by the gradual strangulation of the people of Gaza -- young and old, innocent and guilty-- under an intentional man-made humanitarian crisis.  

It’s imperative that people of good conscience not let Israel’s defenders get away with this bait-and switch. Israel’s “right to defend itself” has nothing to do with the moral outrage caused by the blockade. But it is nonetheless becoming the center of the debate.  

In order to keep the focus on the real issue, here are seven questions for those who continue to claim the siege is about Israel’s security. If you encounter such an argument, just concede the point that Israel has every right in the world to check incoming containers for weapons, at least for the sake of argument, and then launch right into these Columbo-style questions. They’re impossible to answer. (Unless otherwise noted, this is the source for the following info). 

Impossible-to-Answer Question #1: What’s the connection between a hungry Palestinian population and keeping weapons out of the hands of Hamas? I know Israel says it’s letting in enough food in to prevent a humanitarian crisis, but UN officials have called the situation "grim," "deteriorating" and a "medieval siege." A bare minimum of 400 truckloads of goods needs to enter Gaza per week, and an average of 171 get in. According to the World Health Organization, one in 10 Gazans suffer from “chronic malnutrition,” and the UN says six in 10 Gaza households are "food insecure."

Question #2: What changed? I mean, the Gaza strip has been under Israeli occupation since 1978, and in that time Israel has always prohibited the importation of weapons. Hamas has been around since 1978, and has always been an armed enemy. So if it’s all about security, why is it that Israel started preventing 75 percent of all manner of imported goods coming into Gaza only after the election of Hamas, a result rejected by Israel and the international community?

Question #3: Is Israel afraid of some sort of deadly sweet-and-savory weapon? Because I know it has, at various times, prevented chocolate, jam, sage and coriander from coming into Gaza. Just wondering what Israel’s security has to do with Gazans’ flavoring options, you know? Or are you saying that people who don’t have access to French fries, dried fruit -- or fabric, notebooks or toys for that matter -- are less likely to become terrorists? 

Question #4: Israel attacked Gaza’s main power plant in 2006, and it won’t let the Gazans bring in the parts needed to restore its output to the previous levels. The majority of houses in Gaza experience power outages of at least eight hours per day, but some have no juice for as much as 12 hours a day. So, you know: Is Israel worried about rechargeable weapons of some sort?   

Question #5: So, Israel “has not permitted supplies into the Gaza Strip to rebuild the sewage system,” and Amnesty International says that up to 95 percent of the water in Gaza isn’t healthy for human consumption. There isn’t enough power to run the desalination and sewage facilities, so significant amounts of sewage are seeping into Gaza's coastal aquifer, the population’s main source of water. Help me understand what Israel is defending against, here? Some sort of frozen ice-missile technology?

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