Israel sailing into trap
Avi Trengo urges Barak to let ships reach Gaza, reinforce our disengagement from Strip
Anyone who is yet to understand how Hamas controls Israel will have another opportunity to get it via the Gaza-bound flotilla organized by ISM provocateurs (who this time chose to call themselves "Free Gaza.") The move aims to illustrate to the world how brutal and stupid Israel's occupation is.
The problem is that because of the defense minister's childish conduct, the ISM will again defeat the IDF: Navy commandoes will raid the ships and the whole world will see an "upside down Exodus" – the activists will play the role of refugees, while we shall play the role of British thugs. Yet another photo to add to Israel's album of folly.
Yet this is not just a triviality. Each folly like this erodes our military strength. It's not because we have no military strength, but rather, because every foolish act in Gaza places additional constraints on our ability to utilize our military force in the future. Those who use military force against aid ships today should not be surprised later to face demands for "restraint" and "gestures" in the face of missiles. Force must always be used wisely.
It's a simple story: These ships carry no weapons. After all, Hamas receives its weapons via Egypt (our friend.) When once every few years we see weapons-smuggling ships, our intelligence services and Navy know how to take care of them quietly. Yet this time we are facing a media ambush aimed at reinforcing Israel's image as an "occupier" in Gaza.
A large part of the Goldstone Report was premised on the (false) argument that Israel maintains a full blockade around Gaza, and hence the Strip is still considered to be an occupied area. Based on this false image, the report argued that Israel is responsible for Gazans' wellbeing. Yet the facts are quite contrary: In the past week, the Rafah Crossing was open daily and thousands of people passed through it with the permission of the two governments that control the passageway: Mubarak's and Haniyeh's.
However, these facts do not stop Goldstone and senior UN officials from urging Israel to "end its blockade" – especially when the Israeli government and IDF make sure to keep arguing that Israel indeed controls Gaza. As proof, they will stop the aid mission and provide a proof of this, before the cameras.
But there is an alternative: Let the provocateurs and the "aid" reach Gaza without seeing an Israeli vessel anywhere on the horizon. For the benefit of Israeli PR, we should broadcast to the world Ariel Sharon's message, which had been forgotten for five years: We disengaged from Gaza. It is no longer our responsibility. When it poses a military threat to us we shall not hesitate to act. Yet when it comes to any other issue, Gazans should resolve their own problems along with their great Arab neighbor to the south: Egypt.
We need to treat Gaza as an enemy state. We shall guard our own borders and lock up the crossing points between us. They can go to Egypt and bring in aid from Greece or Ireland. Gaza is none of our business.
We should also end the good life of UN officials. They live in Jerusalem while traveling to Gaza to deliver harsh anti-Israel speeches. We should close off the Erez Crossing and send UN officials to handle Gaza while living in the African El-Arish. At that point, Gaza may receive similar attention to that drawn by Congo and Sudan.
Of course, we should not allow Israelis taking part in the mission, such as Raed Salah, to leave Gaza. Let them stay there. The Erez crossing is closed.
Israel should stress that it has no desire to intervene in what goes on in the Strip, yet it shall respond to any military threat with full force and without constraints. This will sum up our attitude to the state of Hamastan in Gaza. We will also stop transferring money. They can go ahead and print it on their own.
This past week, the Palestinian bank governor announced that Israel, which seemingly imposes economic sanctions on Gaza, allowed $5 billion to be transferred to the Strip via the banking system during Hamas' three-year rule. If someone can explain why dollars going to Hamas are kosher but ships carrying worthless goods are wrong, we'll be glad to hear it.
Will the Israeli government be wise enough to take advantage of the Gaza mission in order to score some points in the world, or will it again sail right into the trap?
Avi Trengo is a journalist