The blockade is biting

I wrote on April 13th and 16th about the human disaster that can be predicted as a result of the EU, American and Israeli policy towards Hamas, and about the resolute silence in the media about it. The silence was broken on Tuesday night by a report on Channel 4 news (you can watch it again here) from Gaza, where hospitals are running out of essential supplies and people are dying as a result. It’s one thing to write about economic blockades, another to actually see a person with cancer or kidney failure, deprived of treatment and even of pain relief by this savage policy.

Do any of the people responsible for the EU policy actually think about what they are doing? I suppose the theory must be that if enough suffering is inflicted on the Palestinian people they will, in desperation, force Hamas to recognise Israel and thus allow the peace process to resume. This idea is wrong on at least three different counts

  1. First and most important, it is a form of collective punishment and therefore wrong by definition. The suffering is being inflicted on people regardless of their opinions, how they voted, whether they support violent action, or anything else about them. They are suffering because they are Palestinians.
  2. It won’t work in changing Hamas policies. Palestinians will only become more angry over the occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza, and more determined to defy it. There is a big debate in Hamas at the moment on how to proceed after the elections; this policy can only help the hardliners.
  3. If it did work, the long-term effect would be to hugely increase the bitterness of the Palestinians towards Israel and the occupation. How is that a basis for the reconciliation that is supposedly going to be the foundation for peace in the region?

We expect nothing better from the American and Israeli governments; we know how much they are influenced by humanitarian concern for the Palestinians. But the EU, which has claimed the higher ground in the past, has now joined them. It seems that “The International Community”, so keen in principle on the idea of democracy in the Arab world, is in reality prepared to go to any lengths to stamp it out when it actually happens.

There seems little we can do about this. At least sign the petition and write to your MEPs.

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