Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Israel should end the occupation of Gaza.

Ted Belman

In October ‘04, I asked What will “disengagement” accomplish? and referred to a DEBKA Report which said,

They advised that the US was pressuring Israel to free up the borders and allow an airport and a deep sea port in return for a Security Council Resolution declaring the end of the occupation of Gaza.
Then in August ‘05 I asked Will disengagement end the occupation and thought not.

Finally, in Sept ‘05, the Economist tried to understand The puzzle of Gaza’s new legal status. The reality, however, is more complex, as officials on both sides will quietly acknowledge. International law sets, broadly speaking, two standards for calling a territory “occupied”. The basic one, in the 1907 Hague Regulations, is effective military control by another power. The Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) also lays down what the occupier must do for the occupied, such as providing basic services (water, education, health), giving aid agencies free access, and—the most egregious of Israel’s violations—not settling its own citizens there.
Pursuant to American demands, Israel signed the Rafah Agreement giving up control of the Rafah crossing. I argued The Rafah Agreement is against the law, common sense and prudence

Now, two year later with the Rafah Border breached and arms and terrorists flowing in freely. In addition, Hamas now has access to an airfield and a deep sea port in adjacent Egypt.

The High Court in Israel just ruled that Israel is within its rights to reduce the supply of power and fuel so long as they still meet the humanitarian needs of the population.

It is time to revisit the question of occupation. The only reason to maintain the occupation is to restrict importation of arms, munitions and terrorists and to prevent attacks on Israel. But since Israel wasn’t doing that before the breach and has no intention of doing it now, Israel should totally wash their hands of Gaza and her obligation to supply humanitarian needs.

Thus there will be no restriction at all on Gaza increasing its military capabilities. Nor will there be a restriction on Israel’s self defense should attacks continue. Sooner or later Gaza will be bombed just as Lebanon was bombed. Gazans will flee to Egypt just as the Lebanese fled to the north side of the Litani River. In both case the distance is about 20 miles. Then Israel will invade and reoccupy and we will have a whole new ball game.

Dr Gabriel Dekel, in Sharon’s Endgame argued in July ‘05,

The reason for the Disengagement is to create certain dynamics which will both interrupt the application of the Roadmap and leave a power vacuum which will result in the displacement of the entire Palestinian Arab population. This is the Endgame. [..]
If the legal position of Israel as an occupying force in Gaza ceases, the rules of engagement will irrevocably change. Israel will no longer resort to “target assassinations” and pinpointed aerial strikes in response to Qassam missile attacks. These policing tactics would be futile since Israel would lack the required local intelligence, and unnecessary because post Disengagement conditions will create the legal and political climate for Israel to take more decisive defence measures.[..]

Attacks of Qassam missiles would provoke artillery retaliation as a self-defence measure. Artillery retaliation to hostile fire is by definition imprecise. Israeli strikes would take the shape of a lengthy stop-go process as international pressure would force a temporary cessation. In view of images of mass Israeli refugees fleeing the border towns, the shooting will resume under counter-pressures by the Israeli public. In a matter of a few months the Gazan population would flee to the south-west corner of the Strip, away from Israeli fire.

While I didn’t agree with Dekel at the time as to Sharon’s endgame, I do believe that Israel should end the occupation of Gaza in preparation for a new invasion.

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