By Dr Fayez Abu Shamaleh for Felesteen
When the Israeli army advises its political leadership to resort to economic punishment in response to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, it means that the military has lost its deterrence factor. The so-called Israel Defence Forces now understand that low-flying aircraft dropping bombs on some sites here and there does not terrify the Palestinians in Gaza; does not shred their steadfastness; and does not stop them from developing their own combat capabilities.
The Israeli leadership responded to the military recommendation by closing the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border crossing, through which 12,000 Palestinians get to their workplaces inside usurped Palestine. The decision was taken by Israel’s minister of defence and his successor as army chief of staff, along with the senior officers of the Southern Military Command. Defence Minister Benny Gantz insisted that allowing Gaza Strip workers to return to work inside Israel is linked to the return of security stability. That’s “stability” for Israelis, not for the Palestinians in the besieged enclave.
Such border closures are part of Israel’s war of attrition against the Palestinians in Gaza. It is a collective punishment that is no less brutal than aircraft, artillery and drone missiles. This form of state terrorism is nothing new to the people of Palestine in general, and to the people in the Gaza Strip in particular; they have all experienced it, and the residents of Gaza have lived with closures for many years under the siege. Moreover, they have withstood harsher and more severe living conditions than they face today.
Closing the border crossings is also part of the “economic peace plan” that Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke about several months ago. He envisaged the principle of facilitating the necessities for living and providing more job opportunities in exchange for “calm”; he linked the interests of the Palestinian residents of Gaza to such “calm”, with the hope that it will become a demand made of those in charge by the general public. Lapid’s plan resonated with most Israeli leaders, and became the core of the daily relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.
However, the “economic peace” imposed by the Israeli occupation on all aspects of Palestinian life is not accepted in silence, waiting or listening to mediators before accepting semi-solutions and returning to “calm” in exchange for the crossings being opened. This situation is being confronted by stressing that the relationship between the occupation army and the occupied people is one of daily resistance, around the clock, and that closing the crossings is the quickest way to ensure that more rockets are fired; more turbulent activities take place; and more people take part in angry demonstrations.
As long as the enemy chooses a war of attrition by closing the crossings, the price paid for economic exhaustion must be paid by both sides. Close the crossings, and missiles will inevitably disturb Israeli lives and prevent security stability. Gantz may think that allowing the people of Gaza to have a window to the outside world by opening the crossings is an act of generosity on the part of the occupation state, but he is wrong. It is a decision linked to mutual security and stability. There is a cost to be paid by the occupier and the occupied, not just the latter.
Israel’s philosophy of security must fail, and the Palestinian people and their resistance organisations must adapt to a long war of attrition, because it’s a policy of which the enemy is terrified. Israelis know, deep down, that they simply can’t live without calm and security stability, and turning the economic screw on the Palestinians in Gaza is not going to help to achieve either.