Following the deadly Israeli raid aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla, which left nine international activists dead, Israelis are asking some tough questions about Israel’s management of the Gaza blockade.
- David Grossman (celebrated Israeli novelist whose son was killed in the waning days of the 2006 Lebanon War): "Israel’s actions are but the natural continuation of the shameful, ongoing closure of Gaza, which in turn is the perpetuation of the heavy-handed and condescending approach of the Israeli government, which is prepared to embitter the lives of a million and a half innocent people in the Gaza Strip, in order to obtain the release of one imprisoned soldier, precious and beloved though he may be; and this closure is the all-too-natural consequence of a clumsy and calcified policy, which again and again resorts by default to the use of massive and exaggerated force, at every decisive juncture, where wisdom and sensitivity and creative thinking are called for instead.
And somehow, all these calamities – including Monday’s deadly events – seem to be part of a larger corruptive process afflicting Israel. One has the sense that a sullied and bloated political system, fearfully aware of the steaming mess produced over the years by its own actions and malfunctions, and despairing of the possibility to undo the endless tangle it has wrought, becomes ever more inflexible in the face of pressing and complicated challenges, losing in the process the qualities that once typified Israel and its leadership – freshness, originality, creativity. The closure of Gaza has failed."
- Yossi Klein Halevi (journalist): "The political rationale for the siege is that only by eroding Hamas’s power can the two-state solution remain viable. So long as Hamas remains in control of Gaza, the Israeli public, which now overwhelmingly supports the principle of two states, will not agree to withdraw from the West Bank… By imposing a siege on Gaza while encouraging economic growth in the West Bank, Israel is offering the Palestinians a choice, between the consequences of jihadist terror on the one hand and peace talks on the other."
- Aluf Benn (Haaretz columnist): "The attempt to control Gaza from outside, via its residents’ diet and shopping lists, casts a heavy moral stain on Israel and increases its international isolation. Every Israeli should be ashamed of the list of goods prepared by the Defense Ministry, which allows cinnamon and plastic buckets into Gaza, but not houseplants and coriander. It’s time to find more important things for our officers and bureaucrats to do than update lists. How could a disengagement be done? Israel would inform the international community that it is abandoning all responsibility for Gaza residents and their welfare. The Israel-Gaza border would be completely sealed, and Gaza would have to obtain supplies and medical services via the Egyptian border, or by sea. A target date would be set for severing Gaza’s water and electricity systems from those of Israel. The customs union with Israel would end, and the shekel would cease to be Gaza’s legal tender. Let them print their own Palestinian currency, featuring portraits of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Israel would also make it clear that it will exercise its right to self-defense by inspecting suspicious cargo on the high seas in order to thwart arms smuggling. That is also how the Western powers behave: They search cargo ships for nuclear weapons and missile components. And if we are shot at from Gaza, we will shoot back – with intent to cause harm. We have already proved that we can do so."
- Yehezkel Dror (member of the Winograd Commission, which investigated Israel’s failures in the 2006 Lebanon War): "Monday’s operation once again exposed Israel’s primitive culture of policy-making, with all its dangers… It seems that more radical steps are necessary to overcome the failures of Israel’s policy-making culture, including changes in structure, personnel, training and processes of decision and supervision, especially the example the leadership needs to set. If the additional shock of the naval operation’s failures help generate the necessary change, our loss will be our gain. If not, it is highly likely we can expect more failures that put our future at risk."