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Ceasefire tells the world: Gaza still under Israeli occupation

By agreeing to negotiate freedom of movement for Gazans, Israel has admitted – with the whole world watching – that 1.7 million Gazans are not free. A victory for truth in the ‘information war’.

One of the good things about the Israel-Gaza ceasefire is that it highlights a truth that Israel and its mouthpieces have pretty effectively obscured: that Gaza and its 1.7 million people are still not free because Israel doesn’t allow it.

Ever since the 2005 disengagement, Israel has been repeating over and over that “there is no occupation in Gaza,” and thus Hamas and the other armed groups are firing rockets not out of any grievance, because they have no grievance – they’re doing it out of pure, satanic desire to kill Jews.

But on Wednesday night, Netanyahu, Barak and Lieberman effectively admitted that this was never true. They agreed to negotiate the easing of Israel’s restrictions on Gazans’ freedom of movement: in and out of the Strip, and also within it. This was a crucial element of the ceasefire, it was reported and discussed on Israeli TV and in news media around the world. After this awfully high-profile  agreement, it’s going to be harder for the hasbaratists to say there’s no occupation (though I’m confident they will try).

The occupation of Gaza works like this: Gazans cannot go in or out of the Strip by boat or plane because Israel blockades their seacoast and airspace. On the ground, Israel allows trucks to bring in goods through the Israel-Gaza border, but doesn’t let people go through except in extreme humanitarian cases, thereby cutting off the Palestinians in Gaza from those in the West Bank.

Finally, Israel has established a “security zone” on Gaza’s side of the border that Gazans enter at their peril. Israel says the zone extends 300-500 meters into the Strip. The Red Cross says it extends a full kilometer, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it extends up to 1.5 kilometers – making one-sixth of Gaza’s land, including a third of its farmland, a closed Israeli military zone. (Defenders of this policy say it’s there to stop terror – which is what every foreign ruler in history has said to justify its post-invasion control over a weaker nation.)

The enduring Israeli occupation of Gaza results in Palestinian farmers and metal scavengers of all ages getting killed in the security zone; in massive, ongoing destruction of farmland and buildings in that zone; in fishermen getting shot at by the Israeli navy when they go beyond (or at times just approach) the three-nautical-mile limit that Israel has arbitrarily imposed, which has crippled Gaza’s fishing industry; in 90-95 percent of Gaza’s water supply being contaminated, forcing people to buy bottled water because the blockade stops or severely delays desalination equipment from arriving; in Gaza’s sea being swamped with sewage because the blockade stops or severely delays wastewater treatment equipment from arriving …

I could go on for days; read the 2012 annual OCHA report linked to above for a comprehensive picture of Israeli tyranny over the population of Gaza, even after removing its soldiers and settlers from the Strip’s interior.

In the drawing up of the cease-fire, Hamas at first demanded the lifting of the sea blockade, but Israel refused to discuss it. (Haaretz reported that Barak agreed to negotiate this issue, but was overruled by Netanyahu and Lieberman.) I didn’t see any reports about Hamas demanding an end to the air blockade, no doubt because without airplanes in Gaza, it’s a moot issue for now.

But Israel did agree that “the ground blockade will be reduced to a minimum, Hamas will receive a package of [economic] easements, and restrictions will be lifted substantially at the border crossings to Israel,” according to Yedioth Aharonoth (and other media).

Israel also agreed to negotiate over the no-go zone inside the Gaza border. Finally, quoting this time from Haaretz,  it has “undertaken not to launch any attacks on Gaza – by land, sea or air … and not invade any Palestinian-held land.” This would seem to protect fishermen from navy fire, and all Gazans from army fire into the no-go zone; actually, it would seem to declare the no-go zone out of bounds for Israel.

There’s no telling if any of this will be negotiated as promised; if I had to bet, I’d say the current restrictions will remain in force, or largely in force, until there’s a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which may or may not ever come.

But with the whole world watching, Israel’s leaders inadvertently acknowledged that Gaza is not free, that it is still under Israeli occupation, that its image as “the world’s largest open-air prison” still fits. That should neutralize a few billion tweets and memes from the information warriors of Operation Pillar of Defense.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. r davidson

      Your article fails to mention anything about Egypt. If Egypt really cared about Gazans, they would be doing more to provide humanitarian aid and have fully functioning border crossings on their end.

      Unfortunately, the Palestinians/Gazans have been turned into pawns by their own people.

      Reply to Comment
      • Scootalol

        @r davidson,

        Problem is Egypt needs to look like it’s still a “reliable partner for peace” with Israel… primarily for reasons pertaining to American funds for Egypt. This means that on the issue of Gaza, Egypt kowtows to Israel; Imagine if during “Pillar of Defense” Egypt had thrown the border wide open; “ISLAMIST EGYPT IS GIVING SANCTUARY TO HAMAS TERRORISTS!” the headlines would scream. “OBAMA ADMINISTRATION CONDEMNS EGYPTIAN INTERFERENCE,” another would blast.

        I understand that the anti-Palestinian movement seeks to divest all blame for the suffering of Gazans at Israeli heads onto the heads of any Arab, anywhere. But look at it this way; if it were for Israel doing this to Gaza, there would be no need for the issue of the Rafah crossing.

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    2. Richard Witty

      At risk of being called a “hasbarista” (its not the first time by the far left, by you though?), I don’t believe that Gaza is under siege currently, as Haniyeh and the sheikh of Qatar announced three weeks ago when Egypt first announced that the Rafah crossing was open. “occupied”, if so only barely.

      At some point the language of “Gaza is occupied” has to yield to “Gaza is a state with relations (or not) with its neighbors”.

      If more of the characteristics of a state than of occupied apply, then to ask Israel to allow even any materiel or people to cross, is an attempt to take away Israel’s sovereignty to control its own borders.

      That much much more materiel and aid crossed Israel’s crossings, than throught Egypt, while Israel was at war with Gaza (or whatever military conflict word you want to use), speaks well of Israel.

      Until Sadat negotiated with Israel, there was NO transit across Gaza going both ways.

      I don’t know exactly when, but it was Egypt that again closed the Rafah crossing, for some reason of international relations (not pandering to Israel as might be accused of Mubarek).

      At some point, Hamas bears responsibility for the state of international relations with its neighbors.

      A precipitating factor behind the isolation by sea and air, is that Gaza is not a state, is not part of a state, has not worked to become part of a state.

      Just before Cast Lead, Meshal suggested that Gaza not seek to operate an independent port, but would accept an internationally managed port, with no Hamas controls at all.

      That is a prospect.

      In the already confirmed temporary cease-fire agreement, Israel agreed to not apply the 300 meter “kill zone”, so long as NO rockets are fired from Gaza.

      And, there is no justification for ever considering rocket firing at civilians even “resistance”. It is only attempted murder, thankfully rarely completed. Anger is understandable, strategizing for securing the 300 meter zone is understandable. Attempted murder is a different beast entirely, consistently, in every form or word.

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    3. Aaron Gross

      I’m currently reading Yoram Dinstein, The International Law of Belligerent Occupation. For what it’s worth – and it’s worth quite a bit, I think – Dinstein agrees with you. He acknowledges that the question of whether Gaza is still under belligerent occupation is controversial, but he gives three reasons that he considers Gaza still to be occupied territory: (1) despite their geographical separation, Gaza and Judea and Samaria must be viewed as a single occupied territory, not two distinct territories; (2) “Israel has not lost or relinquished diverse core elements of effective control”; and, what he calls the crux of the matter, (3)Israel still considers itself free to launch incursions and to bring alleged terrorists back to Israel for prosecution and detention. On the last point, he notes that “belligerent occupation is not contingent on maintaining a fixed garrison”; it’s enough that Israel has the capacity to send troops into Gaza to enforce the occupation. I don’t know whether all this is right or wrong, but clearly you’re in distinguished company with your opinion.

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      • JKNoReally

        This illustrates precisely why the left’s fixation with poorly defined but rigid concepts like “occupation” are an obstacle to formulating sensible policy. If Gaza is considered “occupied”, then Gazans are excused from being expected to peacefully governing their territory – as long as some pro-Palestinian lawyer rubber stamps that view, Hamas has a pretext its rockets. Israel is left in an impossible situation: either refrain of defending its civilians, or take defensive measures that bring it within the ambit of the left’s extremely liberal definition of “occupier”, rending measures like the exclusion zone a violation of humanitarian law. The authors of humanitarian law so many decades ago clearly did not intend that non-state actors inhabiting occupied territory should use their occupied status to overrule the occupier’s right to defend its own civilians. That is a perverse outcome, and everyone knows it. The real reason leftists cling to “occupation” is that they can’t persuasively answer those who point out that Hamas’ rockets will continue with or without an aerial blockade or an exclusion zone. The Jargon of international law is a smokescreen for a faulty perception of reality.

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      • Thanks for that, Aaron.

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        • Richard Witty

          I disagree with you Aaron.

          First, at the time of Cast Lead (the period of comment on the Dinstein book, I haven’t read it), the conditions that supported the contention that Gaza is occupied were more evident, still ambiguous though as you noted.

          Since the Rafah border crossing opened, that status of “under siege”, which is a similar if not summarizing form of “under occupation”, was announced by Haniyeh (the prime minister of Hamas/Gaza) that “the siege of Gaza is over”. (Its’ not a direct quote. I’ll find the Haaretz reference if you need.)

          Also, since 2009, Hamas has consolidated its power, and particularly its relationship to its own militias as well as serving as a coordinating and governing role over all the other militias. To the extent that Hamas illustrates the central control of a state institution.

          On the unification of Gaza/West Bank, by actions, policies, relations between Hamas and the PA, the void between Gaza and the West Bank resembles the state of tensions between similarly divided Pakistan and Bengladesh before their split. They are not parallel, but they indicate the possibility (if not greater) of the current and potentially permanent breach between the two communities.

          If your opinion is that “Palestine is occupied” and that “Gaza is part of Palestine”, that would create a math by which Israel would be in the right (grossly sadly) to attack the West Bank, because an authorized representative government of Palestine initiated the aggression on Israeli civilians.

          THANKFULLY, the PA distinguished itself in not facilitating that potential escalation.

          A non-man’s land is not a definition of occupation. And, a closed border is not a definition of occupation.

          Gaza/Hamas initiated and then escalated war with Israel. It was dumb, immoral, murderous, war criminal.

          It’s important for moralists to speak honestly of that reality, and not to find excuses for attempted murder, under the opportunistic rationalization of “occupation” or “resistance from occupation”.

          Sorry to say.

          Gazans have real grievances, but they just facilitated/did 1200 war crimes without qualm, and without accountability from their own conscience, nor those of sympathy for their aspirations.

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          • Aaron Gross

            First of all, you’re disagreeing with Dinstein and what he calls the “prevalent” opinion, not with me. I’m just summarizing Dinstein’s argument, not endorsing it (as if I had the authority to endorse anything). You make some good points, plus some others that don’t seem all that relevant.

            On Judea/Samaria/Gaza as a single occupied territory, Dinstein cites (most recently) the Hamdan case, where the Supreme Court pronounced that unity is valid in principle even though not in actuality since the Hamas takeover. I don’t know that case, but given that summary I’d guess that it doesn’t depend on the exact degree of effective control by Hamas. Of course I also don’t take any court ruling as a necessarily correct interpretation of law.

            I don’t agree with you that this unity would give Israel any legal right to attack targets in Judea and Samaria in response to attacks from Gaza. There is no claim that Gaza is under any effective central control by the PA. I mean, if there were an anti-Israel uprising in Ramallah, that wouldn’t automatically give Israel any right to attack Jericho.

            On point (2), Dinstein’s citing of the ruling on the Fuel and Electricity case is especially compelling: “The notion that a Belligerent Party in wartime is in duty bound to supply fuel and electricity to its enemy is plainly absurd. The sole reason for the existence of an obligation to ensure such supplies for the benefit of the civilian population – even at a minimal level – is that the occupation is not over.”

            That’s an interesting point. It’s the Supreme Court’s own relatively humanitarian ruling that undermines the government’s claim, endorsed by the Court itself, that the occupation has ended.

            So much for points (1) and (2). But Dinstein calls his third point “perhaps the crux” of the matter, and I don’t see you disputing that point.

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          • Richard Witty

            Like in Lebanon, when Hezbollah shelled Israeli civilians in the name of Lebanon, it brought Lebanon into the war.

            The logic of that was ambiguous, partially credible and partially not.

            To shift any obligation (at the hands of some Israeli opportunists) to ambiguity from clearly not associated with Hamas/Gaza, is a grave danger to Hamas, to Palestinians, to Israel.

            The pretense of “resistance” for all of Palestine, even if sincerely felt and even with substantive historical reference (not cause), creates a breach of action from responsibility.

            “Resistance” is not responsible for its actions (criminal or even war-making) on the basis that it is resisting the “occupation of Palestine”.

            But, still can kill (or try to) civilians with impunity.

            Responsibility is a very large change in the bar for “resistance”, and they (Hamas) cling to their “not responsible” status like a child clinging to a toy (yes, intended to be insulting).

            However frustrating their situation is.

            I’ve grown more angry with Hamas over this episode, to the point that I really do not want to give their shelling of Israeli civilians ANY apology in any form.

            I want them to be responsible for their actions, after the fact, and more importantly before the face.

            I want dissent to express some regard for Israeli civilians, to express some moral condemnation of attempted mass murder for it’s own sake and for the credibility of subsequent argument that does criticize Israeli policies.

            As it stands now, the cognitive dissonance between partisans’ apologetics, achieves NO CHANGE.

            Larry cites that Israel only responds to force (mirroring the view that Hamas only responds to force).

            I actually disagree as I am impressed by Israel’s record in this episode. (That credit has to be qualified as again the main differences between Cast Lead and Pillar was that Israel did not undertake preparatory military efforts for a ground offensive like they did in Cast Lead. That preparatory phase was the timing of the majority of civilian deaths and accusations of war crimes.)

            I want that to change.

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      • Kolumn9

        Dinstein’s arguments demonstrate that when one assumes that there is an occupation one can find reasons to justify that position. What similar arguments tend to avoid is any real objective criteria under which an occupation can end.

        Let’s look at all three arguments you provide

        1) The unity of Gaza and the West Bank is an assertion, not a proof. It is also fundamentally irrelevant to the argument. Let’s suppose that Gaza and the West Bank are constituent parts of the state of Palestine and let’s suppose the West Bank is occupied. Does the West Bank being occupied suggest that Gaza is also occupied? No. Does the occupation of North Cyprus mean that South Cyprus is also occupied? No. Does the occupation of the Golan mean that Syria is occupied? No. Is Israel obligated to maintain an occupation of Gaza according to international law? No. Does the absence of a sovereign state in Gaza mean that it is occupied? Still No. In other words, the unity of Gaza and the West Bank in themselves do nothing for an argument that Gaza is occupied. For that matter, neither does the existence or non-existence of a Palestinian state. This point is proof of basically nothing. There can be no ruling by an Israeli court that would change this.

        2) The argument about ‘effective control’ is very much open for interpretation. I would argue that the presence of thousands of rockets and missiles in Gaza mean that Israel has no ‘effective control’. The absence of any Israeli-controlled legal system or legal enforcement would likewise suggest the absence of ‘effective control’. The regionally recognized government of Gaza woudl again point to the absence of ‘effective control’. So, Dinstein chooses to focus on marginal aspects of ‘effective control’ at the expense of the actual situation on the ground where Hamas controls the population and does a decent job in ignoring the formal aspects of Israeli trade restrictions. For example on the issue of fuel – Hamas is importing significant quantities through the tunnels.

        3) The argument that Israel retains force to act in Gaza seems to suggest that until Israel is the weaker party and loses its ability to military intervene in Gaza it has no way of absolving itself of the occupation. This is a fascinating argument which makes absolutely no sense. It would suggest that the US is in effective occupation of a large number of states where it chooses to launch incursions and kill or arrest alleged terrorists.

        Rather than trying to prove the existence of the occupation, it would behoove him and others to propose what they would suggest as the line at which the occupation ends. According to the Geneva Conventions a state is under no obligation to sustain a belligerent occupation. Activist lawyers like Dinstein seem to be desperately trying to force Israel to sustain the pretense of a belligerent occupation indefinitely on the basis of humanitarian law.

        Reply to Comment
    4. What “Israel and its mouthpieces” wil say next is that they have given Gaza even more freedom than they already had. So any unhappy Palestinian will be severely punished for being so ungrateful.
      They have to stretch it at least as long as to steal all the gas that belongs to Gaza.
      And as Shir Hever calculated a few years ago: the rebuilding of Gaza goes throught Israel, also this time, and it will help them financially in a way no other deal could do.
      It’s a win win win situation for the ones in power.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Arieh

      Actually, Israel never denied that it subjected Gaza to a blockade. How could it? Remember the flotilla?

      So why has Israel done that? Because of the rockets which are relatively primitive. But without the blockade, Hamas could being in much more sophisticated weapons and be much more effective with its attacks on Israeli civilians.

      As for the question of whether the blockade constitutes continued occupation of Gaza or not?

      Lets see: If it does, then we can reach the absurd conclusion that during World Wars 1 and 2, the allies occupied Germany while at the same time Germany occupied Britain. Why? Because each side subjected the other to a blockade.

      The only legalistic “response” to the above is that Hamas is not a state and as such, it cannot be subjected to a blockade. But the counter response to that is that such a response demonstrates the inadequacy of international laws as they currently stand. As someone else already pointed out above, these laws were never intended to give non state parties and terrorists a licence to kill the civilians of a sovereign state with impunity. Yet that is precisely the effect that they would have if applied without thought as some people suggest.

      One has to hope that responsible parties are working right now to formulate more appropriate international laws to cover asymmetrical warfare. Otherwise, Israel will not be the only state to experience the crazy interpretations of International laws against it. Either that, or the world will have to face the fact that once again we live in times when there is one law for Jews and another for everyone else. And we all know where that leads to, not just for Jews but for the rest of the world as well.

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    6. Larry,

      Can you explain to me why Gaza doesn’t have free access to the world via the Rafah crossing to Egypt? Whose fault is that?

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    7. Egypt: under Mubarak, Egypt agreed to similary restrict imports into Gaza; this was one of Condi Rice’s stunning achievements. Egypt saw Hamas as much as a pariah as does Israel; consider, the Muslum Brotherhood was ostensibly banned back then. Egypt, its economy quite shaky, wants neither the economic drain nor an influx of young men who might turn violent. It is quite clear that right corporate Israeli nationalism wants Gaza severed from the Bank, politically, ultimately intergrated into Egypt. I actually think that is the likely outcome, or best likely outcome.

      Recall that the shocking (and quite fair, as evidenced by Hamas’ own shock) election outcome was met with two responses by the US and Israel: resticting aid/tax returns to the Authority and (on the part of Bush) some arming of Fatah against Hamas. Recall that Hamas agreed to a 10 year truce (built out of some kind of Islamic history) with Israel, and said it wanted to concentrate on internal development rather than conflict with Israel. Recall as well that the exhiled military commander of Hamas (then in Syria) was against participating in the election at all. We will never know what would have transpired if that election had been honored by the West and Israel, nor what changes Hamas might have gone through internally. By denying that elective outcome, the West lost legitimacy on its own terms. The right nationalist trump is the history of suicide bombing; but the whole point of post election negotiation was whether or not Hamas could follow new aims for what is actuallya quite long 10 year period. Please note that the provisional government of northern Ireland had as its executive a former Catholic militant leader and a former KNOWN IRA cell leader. This does not imply miracles in Gaza, but it does indicate that reproachment can occur.

      Hatred of the suicide bombing history of Hamas is so intense that it must be pushed into the sea, or somehow capitulate to Israeli definitions (its charter, etc.). That 1.7 million people have been hobbled, many dying early, is simplely a failure of Palestinian nationalism. The hatred of right corporate nationlists exhibited on this site is a hatred of all attempts to deny corporate racial categories as the sole, foundational form of human existence. The starvation Wickileaks cables are never acknowledged on this site by nationalists, save tangentally to say the race inhabiting Gaza must learn how to behave. Talk of the Gazan siege as against humanity is as much a denial of the priority of racial categories in defining right and wrong–and this must be slapped down. Compassion is made laughable, a form of delusion, of not but future failure. Siege is denied because otherwise the zero sum logic of racial conflict is in peril.

      And consider that in the Bank settlers grow even though Hamas has been neutralized, with much cooperaton of the Authority. The reigning logic in the Israeli State is racial exclusion and conflict. Otherwise the settlements would have remained frozen. Gazan non occupation, non State is a variant of this global racial war logic. It is this logic, on all sides, on all fronts, which must be fought. And when you try–just watch the righteous come to call you ignorant of all human process. No: they are afraid of human process they cannot control, that could change Israel as well as Gaza and the Bank. This fight for ideas is as much within Israel as outside it.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Vadim

      After reading this article, I feel like I was mentally raped and morally abused.

      You can do all the mental juggling you like – THERE IS NO OCCUPATION IN GAZA. There’s a closure, there are restrictions and people get hurt. That’s what you get for having a Terrorist organization as your leadership.

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    9. David T.

      Resolution 1860 (2009) recalling resolution 242 stressed that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967. The only thing that has changed since the so called “disengagement” of the occupier is that its troops garrison on the periphery of the occupied part.

      Imagine Israel was occupied and occupying forces were stationed outside Tel-Avivs’s city borders. The city still would be considered occupied, even if it was granted some form of self control. This also applies to broader areas. Vichy-France was also an integral part of occupied France. And Israel also controls Gaza’s tax system and its population registration. See:
      http://www.btselem.org/gaza_strip/gaza_status

      Of course the occupied population has NO right to target civilian areas of the occupier. But it also means that the occupier has the obligation not only to protect its citizens but also the occupied population and provide for their well being. Even if it militants attack the occupying forces which they have a right to do resisting an (overall) occupation.

      Same humanitarian principles would apply in the Tel-Aviv analogy.

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      • Arieh

        @David T
        “Of course the occupied population has NO right to target civilian areas of the occupier”

        Good of you to admit that but what if the occupied population does persist with its attacks on the civilian population of the occupier? What should the occupier do then? Just suck it up?

        Also, please tell us. What does the occupier have to do before you would deem that there is no longer an occupation?

        It seems to me that what you advocate gives all the rights to those whom you call the occupied side and no rights for those you call the occupier even after the so called occupier withdrew its army from the place that it once did occupy. You expect them to just absorb any punishment that the once occupied population chooses to dish out. The fact that you admit that they should not do it, is not a concession if you are not prepared to give realistic options for the ex occupier to respond if the ex occupied side persists in doing it.

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      • Arieh

        @David T

        You also forgot to mention that Israel not only withdrew it’s army from Gaza but it dismantled it’s settlements in Gaza.

        I also looked at your Btselem reference and I have a number of questions/comments about it.

        1. Egypt too used to occupy Gaza. It too controls it’s border crossing with Gaza. Does that make Egypt too the occupier of Gaza?

        2. How exactly does Israel keep control of Gaza’s population registry?

        3. How exactly does Israel keep control of Gaza’s tax system?

        And I have another question of my own. Do you think that in order to gain recognition for the fact that Gaza is no longer occupied, should Israel disconnect Gaza from it’s electricity and Telecommunication grid? How would you personally feel about that?

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        • aristeides

          The presence of settlements has nothing to do with “occupation.” The key is the presence of military force.

          Since Israel persists in deploying its military force on the territory of Gaza, it’s occupation.

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          • Arieh

            @Aristo
            “Since Israel persists in deploying its military force on the territory of Gaza, it’s occupation”

            Israel’s military force is not deployed on the territory of Gaza. Unless of course your claim is that Israel itself is part of Gaza? Because Israel is the only place where Israel’s military forces are deployed.

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          • I just heard on the news: The U.S. Navy has just blockaded Israel’s coast and the U.S. Air Force has just blockaded Israel’s airspace. Planes can no longer fly and ships can no longer sail in or out of Israel. Also, the U.S. Army is enforcing a “no-go zone” on one-sixth of Israel’s land. Netanyahu’s reaction: “Fair enough.”

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          • Richard Witty

            Israel is a state and establishment of military aggression against a state is an act of war.

            Gaza is NOT a state, not part of one, not acting to become part of one.

            WHEN it establishes its willingness to abide by the responsibilities of a state, then it will achieve the rights of a state.

            Israel is entirely within its rights to establish any policy it desires along its borders, including prohibiting the transport of humanitarian aid (thankfully it regards Gazan civilians as human beings and allows, even enhances the transit of humanitarian aid).

            Even if it knows that Egypt has closed its crossings.

            The Meshal proposal for a non-Hamas controlled international port, is a good one, one that dissent has consistently dismissed and condemned frankly.

            It was a cute story. “How would you feel?”

            And, still Hamas today declared that it is engaged in armed struggle, and will never back down, and will not relent on firing rockets at Israel, the only question being the timing.

            That is not the qualifying commitment of an aspiring state affirming its responsibilities as a state.

            That is the statement of a criminal, not a citizen, sorry to say.

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          • No, Richard, Israel is committed under the Oslo Accord to allowing reasonable passage between Gaza and the WB. But how you can justify the air/sea blockade and the no-go zone is beyond me.

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          • Simon

            “No, Richard, Israel is committed under the Oslo Accord to allowing reasonable passage between Gaza and the WB”

            Thats true. But only if the Palestinians of Gaza too abide by the Oslo accords.

            Did they? Of course not. They have been firing rockets on Israeli civilians since 2001 and continued to do so even after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

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          • They fire rockets because we deny them freedom – in Gaza and the WB – and enforce that denial of freedom with much deadlier force than their rockets.

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          • Richard Witty

            Show me the wording.

            If, Hamas undertakes war against Israeli civilians, is that in conformance with Oslo?

            Again, if a state undertakes war against the civilians of a sovereign state, what are the admissable means of stopping that, in your mind?

            If, a militia undertakes acts of war against civilians of a sovereign state, what are the admissable means of stopping that, in your mind?

            Again, Meshal has offered to support a non-Hamas controlled port, an internationally controlled port.

            But, you don’t. Why is that?

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          • I think we’re down to a chicken-and-egg debate. I say the original sin was the 67 occupation, which remains in force. About a state’s right to respond to attacks on its civilians: When it’s occupying the attacker’s land, the proper response is to end the occupation. If it’s not occupying the attacker’s land, the proper response is to hit back militarily. It’s the difference between fighting Hezbollah while occupying Lebanon, and fighting Hezbollah from outside Lebanon. The first way is immoral and ineffective, the second way is moral and effective.

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          • If Hamas agrees to a intl-controlled port, of course I agree – but I understand it’s temporary, that eventually they’re going to demand their own port – with the right to ship in weapons – and they’re entitled to. We don’t blockade Lebanon or Syria or any other country, why must we blockade Gaza?

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          • Richard Witty

            Your original question of whether Gaza is occupied (you didn’t present it as a question though), is critical.

            Under the rules of the law of the sea, per international law, the rights of a non-state that fundamentally violates international law is NOT permitted the same status of rights as those that conform to international law.

            EVERY opinion on international law that I’ve read, regards the shelling of civilians, and the prior suicide terror organized regime, to be a gross violation of international law.

            The status of Gaza is fundamentally different than the protocols when Oslo was signed.

            Specifically, it has proceeded towards independent self-governance, from the PA (that is a signatory of Oslo).

            There is nothing clear about this, under international law, or under moral principles.

            To speak as if Gazan rights are unequivocal is to falsify the status of international law.

            Specifically, last year, a committee formed to determine whether the blockade of Gaza was in conformance or violation of international law, concluded that it was in conformance.

            That was a single advisory opinion, but to state that the blockade is illegal under international law is an assertion in an eddy, if not directly against the current.

            Reply to Comment
          • First of all, I don’t care about int’l law, only about right and wrong. But the decision I think you refer to, by the Palmer Commission dealing w/the Mavi Marmara incident, ruled that Israel was entitled under int’l law to blockade Gaza because it was at war w/Gaza. That’s all it said. By the same token, Gaza would have been entitled to blockade Israel. Also, I think the singling out of civilians is a red herring – Israel makes no moral or legal distinction between attacks on its civilians and on its soldiers – both are terror, both are murder. Hamas does not aim at civilians, it aims at anybody it can hit in Israel. Like every other guerilla army fighting a more powerful invader, it uses whatever it’s got, and what Hamas has is rockets with virtually no aim. Believe me, if it could, it would much prefer to kill an IDF general than a civilian – but Israel would take far greater umbrage at the killing of one of its general than of a civilian. If Hamas had Israel’s weapons, it could bomb IDF headquarters in the heart of Tel Aviv and kill unlimited numbers of soldiers, and all the civilians who got killed in the attack would be “collateral damage.” From what you’re telling me, int’l law would consider that legal, but firing a rocket that lands in an open field near a town is illegal. Ask Israelis which sort of warfare they’d rather face.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            Larry,
            When you state in any way “rockets fired at Israelis is not that consequential”, then we have a fundamental difference between what is right and what is wrong.

            And, I mean fundamental.

            A bomb with a faulty detonator planted on a bus might not harm a civilian, but it is still terror whether it succeeds or not.

            Yes, Gazans might just have to drop military approaches, as unfair as it is.

            At some point they become responsible for their actions. What point is that for you Larry?

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Incorrect. Israel regularly sends its armed forces on incursions into Gaza’s territory and fires into Gaza’s territory, killing Gazans.

            The no-mans-land inside Gaza’s borders is created and maintained by Israeli forces. It was Israeli bulldozers that plowed under the croplands – inside Gaza.

            And Israeli gunboats are on constant patrol in the Gazan ocean territory.

            Then there are the Israeli aircraft and drones constantly patrolling the Gazan airspace.

            This is occupation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            Is Gaza occupied, or is Palestine occupied?

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            @ Richard Witty
            “Is Gaza occupied, or is Palestine occupied?”

            Read Security Council resolution 1860. Gaza is an integral part of occupied Palestine.

            About the Palmer Report. It admits on page 8 that its panel “cannot make definitive findings either of fact or law. But it can give its view.”

            And it’s “view” was rejected by UN legal experts:
            U.N. experts say Israel’s blockade of Gaza illegal
            http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/13/us-un-gaza-rights-idUSTRE78C59R20110913

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            The reality of Gaza’s status changed in the two weeks before the escalation of rockets fired at Israel.

            The Rafah crossing opened, stated as permanent. Accompanying that announcement, the Sheikh of Qatar appeared with Haniyeh and announced “Gaza is no longer under siege”.

            Haniyeh says that Gaza is no longer occupied, but you say it is?

            Gaza is at war is the status. It has more of the characteristics of a state than of a non-state.

            1. Central control of military.
            2. Internal elected government (sort of)
            3. Defined borders

            When it goes to war, it goes to war, not to the opportunistic dance of “we are resisting occupation” followed the next week by “we are no longer under occupation and have the rights of a sovereign state” followed the next week by “we are under occupation”.

            All the while, firing rockets at Israeli civilians, reiterating its claims to liberate the entire land of historic Palestine, reiterating its permanent commitment to armed struggle.

            Where do you see any prospect besides endless war Larry?

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            “… but you say it is?”

            I’m reciting a US accepted Security Council resolution and not propagandists.

            “Gaza is at war is the status.”

            Occupation is (Gaza including) Palestine’s war status for more than four decades.

            “It has more of the characteristics of a state than of a non-state.”

            Irrelevant. The IV. Geneva Convention deals with civilians (e.g. in occupied territories). It doesn’t matter, if they live in a souvereign state or are still prevented from exercising their right to self determination in post colonial times for more than nine decades.

            “All the while …”

            Was the British-Zionist mandate and Israel’s conquer, occupation and blockade of Palestine and keeping its refugees and their descendants expelled ever possible without terrorizing and killing Palestinian civilians?

            Reply to Comment
          • Israel treats Gaza and WB like it treats all its other neighbors – no blockade, no nothing – and lives within its sovereign borders, after which if Hamas, etc. continue to attack Israel, they would do so only once because the punishment would deter further attacks. That’s been the story w/Hezbollah, which is much, much stronger than Hamas, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be the story w/Hamas, too.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            I think that is false.

            That this episode occurred so close to Cast Lead, indicates to me that Hamas seeks opportunity (in this case the change in the Egyptian regime), the population that it is responsible for be damned.

            Reply to Comment
    10. Richard Witty

      For reference, the chicken came first.

      A more relevant metaphor is a bicycle wheel.

      Terror and unnecessary military speed up the spinning of the wheel. Heightened rhetoric speeds up the spinning of the wheel.

      Rationalizing for features that encourage the lack of accountability of parties to war, speeds up the spinning of the wheel.

      I don’t hear your recommendations as to appropriate means of accountability to terror (including rockets fired at civilians).

      Reply to Comment
    11. Kolumn9

      Israel acknowledged that it has a naval blockade of Gaza and that it controls its own border crossings with Gaza.

      The first is no secret and legal and the second is very much a sovereign right. So what is this great discovery that supposedly has Israel telling the world that Gaza is under occupation?

      So, you are conflating a naval blockade with an occupation even though the two are entirely different animals in international law. You are then suggesting that Israeli control over its own border crossings is proof of the existence of an occupation because Israel is supposedly obligated to provide free access to goods to an occupied territory or people. Do you not see this as a really warped circular argument?

      There is no occupation of Gaza. If the best arguments you have are the ones you listed in this article then your entire case is empty.

      Reply to Comment
      • Israel does not like to mention the blockade, it doesn’t like people thinking there is a blockade = it likes people thinking that the occupation’s over, Israel has quit Gaza, and that when terrorists bring boats to aid Hamas, this is a threat to Israel’s survival that Israel is duty-bound to stop. Israel denies impinging on Gaza’s freedom in any way – the cease-fire agreement is a high-profile admission it does. About the border crossings, Israel is entitled to control entry to its own sovereign territory, but it is not allowed, at least not morally, to use that right to disconnect Gaza from the WB, which is what it does. And if you don’t like the word “occupation” for what Israel does to Gaza, substitute “military control,” “tyranny,” “subjugation” or whatever other term means forcible denial of freedom.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Israel very publicly declared a maritime blockade of Gaza, so I have no idea what you are talking about there. That is the justification provided for preventing any boats from coming into Gaza in the first place and one accepted by the UN commission.

          If Israel is entitled to control its own border sovereign crossings then it is entirely allowed to both morally, legally and logically to prevent them from being used by any person to pass through Israeli territory for any reason whatsoever.

          Well, now we have progress. You seem to be willing to accept the idea that the term ‘occupation’ is not appropriate. There is certainly a denial of some freedoms in place for reasons of Israeli security, but all the terms you use seem to suggest that Israel has no legitimate security concerns vis-a-vis a Hamas regime with thousands of rockets that has an interest in smuggling ever larger weapons, killing Jews and kidnapping soldiers.

          Reply to Comment
          • 1. Israel pretends that it does nothing to impede Gazans’ freedom, only to defend itself, so the only people who should have a problem w/Israel’s actions are terrorists – the cease-fire says different. 2. Israel must allow reasonable passage between Gaza and WB because without it, the Palestinians cannot be sovereign, and they have a right to sovereignty, and Israel is the one denying it to them. 3. Of course Israel has legitimate security concerns – I’ve never once suggested that Israel doesn’t need a very, very strong military. But lots of other countries found out that colonialism was bad for their security, and I am absolutely convinced that Israel would find out the same thing. Ben Gurion said Israel needs two things to live and be well – strength and justice. I agree. It has plenty of the first, not nearly enough of the second.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Larry, again, the security measures Israel has taken are extremely explicit in nature. The blockade, the buffer zone and the restrictions on imports are mapped, listed and documented by the IDF itself. That it isn’t widely covered by the international press is because no one really cares, not that any of this is hidden. The cease-fire does nothing on this count whatsoever.

            Israel has absolutely no obligation to provide safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank (outside of whatever obligations still exist under Oslo). Nothing deriving from the Palestinian right to sovereignty or independence can supersede Israel’s sovereign rights to control its own territory and border crossings. This is pretty basic to the very idea of sovereignty in the first place and your argument makes no sense, unless of course you subscribe to the belief that Israel has no right to sovereignty within any borders.

            In arguing that Hamas’ attacks derive from some injustice that you blame on Israel you are effectively arguing that Israel has no right to defend itself whatsoever and that any measures taken by Israel to prevent Hamas from arming or trying to capture Israeli soldiers are a priori illegitimate. In other words, until the Palestinians are satisfied with the arrangement any attempt to kill you is entirely justified and your government should not actively seek to prevent it. The part you seem to willfully ignore is that you are a settler according to the people launching rockets. The justification they have for launching attacks on you will last as long as you are alive and in Palestine.

            Reply to Comment
          • K9, the foreign (and Israeli) media were never interested in Israeli controls over Gaza before, but they sure are now. For probably the first time, all the foreign stories (and many Israeli ones) are talking about the freedom of Gazans going into the buffer zone, of fishermen going out 6 instead of 3 nautical miles, of the issue of the border crossings, of the further easements they hope to get. I think the media coverage of this story since the cease-fire is proving my point – that the cease-fire makes it clear to the world, for the first time, that Gaza has remained under occupation.
            Re the border crossings, the world’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty has always, since 1947, been coupled with a recognition of the Palestinians’ right to sovereignty, and rightly so. Israel, of course, can assert sovereignty at the border by keeping out clear security risks and limiting the number of people going through, etc., but it can’t just say I’m the sovereign, nobody comes in, because that cuts Palestine in half and effectively kills it – and that’s a violation of the world’s rightful terms of Israeli sovereignty, emphasis on the word rightful.
            About the Palestinians’ right of resistance – it’s undeniable, but so is my right or any Israeli’s right to defend himself from attack. Nobody is duty-bound to commit suicide. But instead of the Palestinians exercising their right to kill me and me exercising my right to kill them when they try, why not remove their right to kill me – by removing my control over them – which will either 1. take away their motivation to kill me, or 2. leave them with no legitimacy to attack and me with full legitimacy to defend, while also leaving them, as always, the militarily much, much weaker side in the fight. Either way I win. You’re right that the overwhelming majority of Palestinians will still see me as a settler, But they will be politically and militarily helpless to get rid of me, so the overwhelming majority won’t try, and they will have a strong incentive to stop the few crazies who may still want to.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Larry, actually no, the coverage makes it entirely clear to the entire world that Gaza isn’t under occupation. The context is almost invariably an “Israel-Gaza war” and whatever mentions the Israeli security measures get are mere footnotes. Nearly every article points out that Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and almost none are willing to make the wide leap from blockade to occupation that you appear to make on misdirection and bubble gum.

            Larry, please look up sovereignty because you are very confused on the concept. If Israel’s sovereignty is recognized then yes, it has sole discretion on who gets access to or passage through its territory. The only argument you can make to the contrary is based on the limitations imposed by international treaties or conventions Israel has signed as sovereign. However, there is absolutely no case for the argument that the Palestinians right to sovereignty supersedes Israel’s right to the sovereign control of its borders and territory. Israel’s sovereignty, like that of every other state, is not in any way conditional on the existence or viability of any other state. Pretending that there are ‘rightful’ terms to Israeli sovereignty is entirely contradictory to the entire concept of sovereignty. Note that not even organizations like Gisha make a claim like yours that Israeli sovereignty is conditional. They limit themselves to arguing that Israel obligated itself to allowing passage between Gaza and the West Bank as part of the Oslo Accords. If you want to make a credible case stick to that because this whole thing about Israeli sovereignty being subject to the complete satisfaction of Palestinian demands is a claim made by those that wish Israel dead.

            The Palestinians have absolutely no right to target civilians. This is undeniable. If we were to define them as people under occupation then they have a right to target the military forces of the occupier, but never the civilians. The problem with your logic is that within the context that groups like Hamas operates Palestinians will continue to have the right and motivation to kill you long after you think they will have lost it. Between Iran, al-Qaeda, the Salafis and anyone else who wants to challenge Israel (or America) in the Middle East there will remain plenty of political and military support to kill you. The idea of “removing your control over them” is certainly interesting but the problem is that it relies on this ridiculous notion that a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians is somehow easily achievable and that Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense is subject to Palestinian whims at the negotiating table. This is madness. As for the ‘crazies’ that will continue to want to shoot rockets into Israel, what precisely gives you the confidence to make the bold claim that the ‘overwhelming majority’ will stop them? You yourself admit that the majority of Palestinians will not see the case as closed and will continue to view YOU as the occupier. As far as they are concerned the rocket attacks on Tel Aviv from Samaria will continue to be legitimate, so you are presuming that their government, whose legitimacy will come from fighting against Israel and resisting occupation will take the unpopular step of smashing the ‘crazies’ who the majority believe are pursuing legitimate resistance.

            In other words, for you the legitimacy of Israeli self-defense is entirely conditional on satisfying a population that is entirely supportive of attacks on Israel. Do you not see this as insane?

            Reply to Comment
          • K9, I don’t see that you’ve made an argument. You’ve basically responded by saying, “No, it’s not, and no, they don’t have the right.” Take away the haughty tone and casual insults, and there isn’t much there.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Larry, your response fits with a pattern of you dismissing arguments you can’t argue against. Your right I suppose.

            Reply to Comment
    12. Arieh

      Actually Larry, if American civilians would be bombarded by Israeli rockets, I would condone a blockade of Israel by the US.

      Just for interest, do you think that would be the only response by the US if Israel would do that?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Richard Witty

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/world/middleeast/israel-and-hamas-are-united-in-seeing-scant-value-in-compromise.html?hp

      This report describes that the most common sentiment expressed in Gaza, and less so but still present in the West Bank, is some variation of ‘we’ve got them on the run’, not relief that we are not being attacked, and not that our civilians are now safe.

      NOT a good sign. NOT an effort at a fair outcome. Is this “right” or is this “wrong”?

      Reply to Comment
    14. David T.

      @ Arieh

      “What should the occupier do then?”
      Treat them as if they were Jews.

      “What does the occupier have to do before you would deem that there is no longer an occupation?”

      Stop occupying.

      “It seems to me …”
      Whatever.

      “You also forgot to mention …”

      Dismantlement of settlement doesn’t change the status. Regarding your questions, ask BTeselem or Gisha.

      “Do you think that in order to gain recognition for the fact that Gaza is no longer occupied, should Israel disconnect Gaza from it’s electricity and Telecommunication grid?”

      It’s not recognized at all and an occupier doesn’t stop being one only because he disregards his obligations toward the occupied population. Security Council Resolution 1860 called for the “unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment” according to the Geneva Conventions dealing with occupied territories.

      “Israel’s military force is not deployed on the territory of Gaza.”

      Irrelevant, the occupier can deploy its troops on the periphery of an integral part of an occupied territory. For example outside the borders of a city of an occupied country. You obviously didn’t understand the Tel-Aviv anology.

      Reply to Comment
      • Arieh

        @David T
        “What should the occupier do then?”

        David T:”Treat them as if they were Jews”

        But they are not Jews and they are not part of Israel.

        “What does the occupier have to do before you would deem that there is no longer an occupation?”

        David T: “Stop occupying”

        They did. They got out of Gaza in 2005. Not a single Israeli is present in Gaza. But they still occupy Gaza?

        Nice slogan. But it ain’t true.

        Reply to Comment
        • David T.

          @ Arieh

          “But they are not Jews and they are not part of Israel.”

          And Poland’s Jews weren’t German and not part of Germany. Do you think that an occupier has the right to treat the occupied less human than its own citizens? In that case you missed the whole development of humanitarian law after world war 2.

          “They did. They got out of Gaza in 2005. Not a single Israeli is present in Gaza. But they still occupy Gaza?

          Nice slogan. But it ain’t true.”

          It’s not a slogan and true to the rest of the international community, especially the security council. That’s because they understand that Gaza is A PART OF occupied Palestine. You don’t even understand that if Israel was occupied than Tel-Aviv would also be considered occupied, even the occupying troops were garrisoned outside its city borders and only went in when necessary.

          Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            David T:
            “And Poland’s Jews weren’t German and not part of Germany. Do you think that an occupier has the right to treat the occupied less human than its own citizens? In that case you missed the whole development of humanitarian law after world war 2″

            Great analogy David (not). What did Poland Jews do against the Germans to deserve the treatment that the Germans gave the Jews?

            What did the Gazans do against Israeli civilians? Answer: They were lobbing rockets at Israeli civilians and blowing them up?

            Sorry, but your analogy does not stand up to scrutiny.

            As for your claim that because Israel still occupies the West Bank, Gaza too should still be considered as occupied even though not a single Israeli is present in Gaza.

            You want to be legalistic? OK then I will be legalistic too. Show me how Gaza and the West Bank can be classed as the same sovereign country. When was there ever a sovereign independent Gaza/West Bank country? Answer: Never!

            So again your analogy with Israel/Tel Aviv does not stand up to scrutiny. At least not if you want to be legalistic.

            Like I said, there are no existing International laws that really cover the situation that exists between Israel and the Palestinians. It is high time that unbiased international experts should convene and formulate laws covering non state parties and asymmetrical warfare. It will then be possible to avoid current laws which were intended to cover wars between sovereign nations. Applying those laws to Gaza is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

            Reply to Comment
    15. aristeides

      The flaw in the reasoning here is the assumption that “occupation” is an illicit and bad thing. It’s not. The military occupation of Palestine by Israel is quite legal, in itself.

      The problem is the abuse of the occupation by Israel, which it has done from the beginning, from the deployment of the first bulldozer.

      Reply to Comment
      • Arieh

        @Aristo

        What happened in the past is in the past. Both sides did things to each other that they should not have done. Stop pretending that Israel alone committed the original sin.

        I mean How far do you want to go back and point at what Israel did? I can go back further and point at what the Arabs did to Israelis before that. We could go on like that for days and we still wouldn’t agree.

        What matters though is the present. At present there are no Israelis in Gaza. Gaza is self governed by Hamas. Gaza is not under occupation no matter how much some people obsessively try to spin the facts otherwise.

        There is a cease fire. Lets see how long it will last and whether the Palestinians are willing to treat Israelis as if they were Palestinians and stop firing their rockets on Israeli civilians.

        Reply to Comment
        • David T.

          @ Arieh

          Like I wrote in my posting you probably didn’t read, because you were writing yours:

          If Israel was occupied than Tel-Aviv would also be considered occupied, even the occupying troops were garrisoned outside the city borders.

          Accusing the international community and the security council (including the USA) of “spinning” facts is quite rich comming from someone who supports a state which doesn’t even consider the settlements or Jerusalem’s annexation as illegal.

          Granting autonomy to A PART of an occupied territory or deploying troups on the periphery of A PART of an occupied territory doesn’t change the status of THE PART of a territory considered occupied. I could explain to you, how this understanding was developed after world war 2, because Germany didn’t physically occupy large parts of its occupied countries or the parts which were controlled by partisans. But because of your ridiculous accusations I don’t think that you are honestly interested in international law.

          Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            I did respond to your previous comment. See above.

            “Accusing the international community and the security council (including the USA) of “spinning” facts is quite rich comming from someone who supports a state which doesn’t even consider the settlements or Jerusalem’s annexation as illegal.”

            To the best of my knowledge, the USA does not consider Gaza to be occupied. But if I am wrong, I am prepared to admit that I made a mistake. Maybe you could give me a link to a reliable site which backs up your claim that the official policy of the USA is that Gaza is still under Israeli occupation?

            I am prepared to be educated if need be.

            Reply to Comment
    16. aristeides

      Funny that some people seem so obsessed with denying the status of “occupation,” while insisting that others stop looking at the past.

      If what matters is the present, the present is Gaza under seige. Let’s see if Israel is willing to let Gazans be free.

      Reply to Comment
      • Arieh

        “If what matters is the present, the present is Gaza under seige. Let’s see if Israel is willing to let Gazans be free”

        I have no problems with the word “siege”. Yes, Gaza is under siege so long as they lob rockets from Gaza on Israeli civilians. But a siege is not occupation. A siege is a siege it is not uncommon in war for one party to lay siege on another party. Especially if the other party lobs rockets at the party which it says that it should not exist. War is war and siege is not an illegitimate tactic under the circumstances.

        Reply to Comment
        • Arieh

          Never mind about what the USA says. Never mind about what we all say. This is what Hamas says:

          http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=520228

          “Speaking to Ma’an, Zahhar asserted that “Gaza is free of occupation, and contiguity with the outside world is easier as visitors from all over the world visited the coastal enclave.”

          He added that one year after the disengagement local and parliamentary elections took place in 2006. “Fatah turned against the outcome of elections, a siege has been imposed and the former Egyptian regime practiced certain policies including closure of the Rafah crossing.”

          I think Zahar agrees more with me and Richard Witty, not with you, Larry, David and Ariste. Or am I missing something?

          Reply to Comment
          • pelsar

            @Arieh
            the one thing which is most fascinating to me, is the way Larry and friends treat the Palestinians, as if they are little kids who cannot be held responsible for their actions, let alone for their words.

            as per your quote, They are clearly claiming that they are in fact responsible for their actions and can “do what they want.” Larry is ignoring this, since if that is accepted than the whole house of cards that israel is responsible for the actions of hamas falls apart and that would be a “game changer” in terms of how the Gazans are viewed.

            Reply to Comment
          • Let’s see – Egypt opens the Rafah crossing and Zahar says there’s no more occupation, and you guys present it as if he’s saying Israel has no more illegitimate control over Gaza, that the blockade, no-go zone and closed border crossings are fine with Hamas. Somehow I don’t think that’s what he means by saying there’s no more occupation. Since he said this with regard to Egypt’s opening of the Rafah crossing, my strong hunch is that he meant Gaza isn’t totally isolated from the world anymore – Rafah has given them an opening. Re his bragging about Gaza’s economy, I don’t think he means he sees nothing wrong with Israel forcing Gaza to literally run its economy underground, he’s saying that despite Israel’s efforts to choke off Gaza, Hamas is overcoming them. But then maybe I’m wrong and you’re right that Zahar is saying to the Palestinians that Gaza has no problems from Israel anymore. Makes sense.

            Reply to Comment
          • pelsar

            @larry…and that is the point. Hamas is taking responsibility for their own economy no matter what israeli does…or how the left claims they “can’t” because israel is choking them. Hes simply proving you and others wrong.

            Step 2 is for you to respect and accept that with Hamas, they are not irresponsible children but adults making decisions that affect the lives of their community. Whether they import rockets or food, its their decision. If some of the kids are hungry or they lack medicines, they can import less rockets and more food. They decide not israel.

            Hamas unlike the PA is already taking their responsibilities seriously about not being a “beggar state.” More power to them in that respect.

            The question is will you respect their decisions as those of adults

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            Even if there remain some features that are common to occupation, the action taken by Hamas was attempted mass murder. War.

            Not petition, but war.

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          • Richard Witty

            On adults vs children.

            Abbas and the PA have affirmed the oppossite of your conclusion, that the action of an adult is to build the institutions of governance that comprise a state in accordance with the responsibilities of a state.

            Hamas has proceeded to instead initiate war, and then claim that they are alternately mature responsible parties then immune from the responsibility of war because they are occupied.

            I don’t see them as mature and responsible in the same way.

            Reply to Comment
          • pelsar

            @Richard Witty
            Responsibility is taking responsibility for ones actions and understanding that there are consequences for ones actions.

            Hamas understands that concept very well and since they do not want to be dependent upon israel they are in fact doing something about it.

            They are not “crying about it”. (unlike their “friends”)

            As far as the war goes, they made their decisions knowing what the results would…again understanding the consequences

            Infact their economy may soon will have no connection to israel and will make use of the israeli imports as a leverage for the useful idiotes who will complain that the gazans cant get israeli humus. or as proof that they are dependent upon israel and its therfore proof of the occupation, all the while increasing their imports and exports via egypt.

            Of course the “occupation will continue” as too many people have too much invested in it

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            So you approve, even support, the actions by Hamas of shelling Israeli civilians (1400 war crimes), and the consequences to Gazan civilians (civilian buildings where rockets are stored, destroyed).

            No qualms.

            Just for reference, after the Rafah crossing opened two weeks ago, Hamas “succeeded” in getting it closed again, for the risk of Egypt being brought directly into the war.

            Very responsible party.

            Reply to Comment
          • pelsar

            @richard…thats a pretty dumb conclusion…
            “So you approve, even support, the actions by Hamas of shelling Israeli civilians …”

            if your looking to make absurd conclusions please look elsewhere, its a dumb game to play and I dont play it.

            Hamas is doing what is good for hamas, and clearly being dependent upon israel is not what they want and are doing something about it…its that simple.

            The PA is not.

            Already electricity is coming from egypt, the trucks pour into rafah on the egyptian side to unload their goods be it rockets or cars (the egyptians could just stop the trucks if they wanted to stop the commerce)

            as that expands, you’re going to have to find more imaginative excuses as keep claiming that israel is occupying gaza when it has little control over its economy….

            Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            ” Somehow I don’t think that’s what he means by saying there’s no more occupation”

            It does not matter why one of Hamas’s main leaders admits that there is no more occupation.

            What matters is that he admits it.

            And what also matters is that despite that, Hamas was still lobbing rockets on Israeli civilians.

            Thats why Israel continued its siege.

            Reply to Comment
    17. pelsar

      this whole thing is not that difficult, but it does require a single thing: That they take responsibility for their actions, both politically and militarily(hamas and friends, as in many on the left-this is where you fail Larry).

      Apparently they are quite capable of importing military grade rockets, developing sophisticated command structures, build tunnels, etc…run a society, yet at the sometime have a problem with creating a diplomatic solution to working with egypt or israel….apparently its not that high on the hamas “to do list.”.

      if one recalls many years ago, the left mantra was “israel must make the first move, do something dramatic”.

      well, israel did, its wasnt perfect, it doesnt have to be, nor could it be, but it was done.

      Its now the Palestinians turn to prove/show that they can respond in a constructive way. So far they haven’t. Until then, there is little we can do.

      Treating the Palestinians (gazans) as some kind of second rate humans, as if they cannot take responsibility for their actions and create a viable society is self defeating

      They have chosen not to, at the very least you should be respecting that decision of theirs, with its consequences.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Arieh

      @Pelsar

      Yes I agree with you. I would almost find their position amusing but it is too serious for that.

      Their logic goes something like this:

      1. So you (Israel) won a defensive war and have become occupiers.

      2. This entails serious responsibilities. It means that they can do anything to you (Israel) because they have the right to resist occupation.

      3. But you (Israel) can do nothing to them in response because occupiers owe them (the Palestinians) a duty of care.

      4. Nor can you (Israel) easily escape the responsibility of being an occupier even if you give up everything (as Israel did in Gaza). You can’t do that because you will still be called occupiers. Why? Because we (the Israel bashers) got so used to calling you occupiers that we can’t easily give up the habit. Not even if Hamas itself (in a fit of momentary sanity) admit that the occupation has ended.

      What can one say, Pelsar? You gotta laugh.

      Reply to Comment
      • pelsar

        @Arieh
        I’ll do you one better….its the treating treating the Palestinians like little children.

        Even when hamas claims that they are no longer occupied, our friends cannot accept that. When hamas prefers taking their limited resources and buys “guns” over butter” somehow our friends cant accept that hamas made their own decision. (someone else made them do it)

        For reasons that are beyond me, Larry, i believe, believes that if we open the port than “all of a sudden” they will change their value system, change their morality, change their “way of life and embrace western democratic values.

        and if they decide not to and for some odd reason that cannot be understood, and they keep on shooting at us, then we can bomb the shit of them, unless of course we did something else wrong….

        Reply to Comment
    19. jeff

      To the editor:

      Truth would better be served if you didnt exclude key points that make your gaza statements not entirely accurate. you should not mislead your readers.

      true israel has had at times a closed border on its side along gaza. why did you fail to mention the Egyptian – gaza border crossing?? the fact that it is on the other side of gaza is equally important if you state “falsely” that israel completely controls movement in and out of gaza. Additionally, the fact that israeli ambulances average 5 pickups per day at gaza border taking palestinian hospital patients to more specialized care in israeli hospitals also not of “journalistic fairness.” That sounds pretty humantarian to me. Are you a revisionist or here to help all people live in peace?? Unfortunately, you are not helping the palestenians living under hamas occupation. Hamas spares no expense in helping the people it represents, by using their financial resources to build tunnels and bombs instead of less important measures to improve intrastructure, schools, farming, and education.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Arieh

      A number of people here claimed that Israel’s siege of Gaza is the reason why Gazans fire rockets at Israel.

      Well then, you all might recall Ehud Barak’s 2001 peace offer to the Palestinians at Taba. And the response was?

      Go to this site, it lists the attacks from Gaza just in 2001:

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel,_2001#section_2

      There was no siege of Gaza in 2001 or even later but there were sure plenty of rockets and mortars fired on Israeli civilians from Gaza.

      Go figure.

      Reply to Comment
      • No siege of Gaza in 2001? Not only did Israel control Gaza’s coast, airspace and border crossings (all of them, including Rafah), but the IDF was inside the Strip as well as outside, and Israeli settlers were living on Gazan land. In other words, Gaza in 2001 was like the West Bank today – under total occupation, from inside and out. That you don’t see this is – very Israeli.

        Reply to Comment
        • Arieh

          Yes Larry that is true.

          But as I said, in January 2001 in Taba, Ehud Barak offered a very generous peace deal. Yes, even Clinton said so, after all, he twisted Ehud’s arm and cajoled him to make the concessions that he made.

          Do you therefore think that the rocket/mortar fire was the appropriate response to that offer?

          Reply to Comment
          • No, the second intifada was crazy. But it didn’t start and go on as long as did strictly by Palestinian malice aforethought. Sharon went up to the Temple Mount with hundreds of cops, an incredibly provocative move in a time of extreme high tension, the Palestnians rioted, the next day they rioted again and the police killed about six of them, the Palestinians went nuts, and that was that. Both sides could have used more restraint, not just the Palestinian side.

            Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            “Sharon went up to the Temple Mount with hundreds of cops, an incredibly provocative move in a time of extreme high tension”

            Are you now saying that the rocket fire started because of this and not the blockade?

            If you are, then we are in agreement that Sharon’s temple mount visit was their excuse.

            What we probably don’t agree on is whether that was a valid reason.

            I say that a Jewish leader visiting the holiest site of Judaism should not be an excuse to start riots. Rioting for that reason is an act of religious intolerance. If Jews would be the ones doing it to them, I am sure you would say that. Am I right or not? Be honest now.

            Reply to Comment
          • pelsar

            @larry
            wow..so sharon goes and takes a walk on some holy ground and the Palestinians just have to riot….and your actually accepting that as a reason for their rioting?

            I can only conclude that you view the Palestinians as something akin to little immature children that simply cant help themselves when their “upset, and they just have to go out and destroy stuff.

            and you believe in the same breath that they can build a responsible state….wow. I’m always impressed with the ability to hold to contradictory views at the sametime.

            what will happen when they have their own state, their own missiles and we do something else that upsets them?..war? and will you be excusing them for that as well?

            Reply to Comment
          • Arieh

            If your answer to my question in the previous post is yes, then let me ask you another question.

            In 2005 Israel withdrew completely from Gaza. It also dismantled Gush Katif and other settlements. Yet the rockets did not stop. Even though at that stage Israel did not yet impose a blockade on Gaza because the PLO ruled Gaza. Yet Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their cronies continued firing rockets on Israeli civilians.

            So what came first Larry? The chicken or the egg? I can prove to you that the rockets came first and then came the blockade. After Hamas booted out the PLO and took over Gaza.

            Reply to Comment
          • Richard Witty

            It was reported in Haaretz at the time, that Sharon had asked for permission from the responsible caretakers of the mosque before just showing up.

            Provocative yes. The reaction to it though was not spontaneous, but orchestrated.

            Reply to Comment
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