It’s no secret that the blockade isn’t perfect. However, it is most certainly not a baseless caprice. It aims to prevent the Gaza Strip and a terror organization that declared war on Israel from equipping themselves with long-range weapons and building an Iranian base in southern Israel. The siege prevents the establishment of an entity that aims to complete the Iranian mission to attack Israel with long-range missiles from the south as well.
If we take Lebanon as an example, the naval blockade imposed on it was successful, yet the land blockade was trampled upon, while shredding Resolution 1701. At this time, tens of thousands of missiles are deployed in Lebanese territory. Is this the situation in the Gaza Strip? Is anyone willing to take such gamble?
If we lift the naval blockade around the Strip, we would not be able to demand that Egypt continue to prevent the transfer of heavy weapons from its territory. This is not only an immediate security concern, but also a question of our national future. Our presence in areas that are not monitored or demilitarized is necessary. Without a military presence and direct Israeli control, we’ll be hit with missiles.
We will have to deal with this issue in Judea and Samaria as well, in a situation of a future agreement. Hence, this is the kind of test that will see every missile smuggled from Iran via other states in the region arriving at our doorstep should we fail. It is a test of our ability to enforce effective demilitarization agreements.
We must show endurance
The blockade has nothing to do with Gaza’s humanitarian situation. The latest flotilla proved there was no such crisis. Every offer to transfer the goods on board the ships to Gaza was rejected out of hand, because the sail was an attempt by violent thugs to exploit quite a few innocent people in order to create a provocation.
However, as is always the case, the voices that emerge after a crisis or tension tell us that the wise thing to do is to yield. I wish this was true. In Lebanon, Gaza, and even in Judea and Samaria, we encountered cynic and hostile exploitation when we adopted this move, before Operation Cast Lead. Yet as we know today, there are tens of thousands of missiles in Lebanon, while in Samaria quiet prevails. The blockade and our cooperation with Egypt in the south keep Gaza a little less dangerous than Lebanon.
Hence, we must not get scared by the apocalyptic scenarios and threats surrounding us and fall apart. We must maintain the right perspective: Thus far, no state severed its ties with Israel. Meanwhile, the Arabs in Israel and in Judea and Samaria did not realize the horrific scenarios we were frightened with.
The blockade is part of an overall arsenal of means adopted by the State vis-à-vis the Gaza enemy, and for the sake of our survival. We saw enemies that realized over time – via our endurance and steadfastness – that the prices one pays for harming Israel aren’t worthwhile.
Hamas is one of the most radical and unrestrained entities out there. After all, we left Gaza, and its residents could have selected a different path. As long as it’s the path of war, they shall get war. Now, we must prove that we possess endurance. We already possess the existential justification to continue the blockade as long as it’s needed.
Effie Eitam is an IDF brigadier general (res.) and a former minister on behalf of National Religious Party