Key to pro-Palestinian propaganda against Israel is portraying the situation in and around Gaza as a “siege.” But Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued a statement explaining that such a portrayal simply isn’t accurate.
The statement begins by pointing out some basic geography: Gaza is not wholly surrounded by Israel:
"There is no Israeli “siege” on the Gaza Strip. First of all, Gaza shares borders not only with Israel, but with Egypt as well. There is a 13 kilometer (8 mile) frontier between Gaza and Egypt. That country, and not Israel, controls the Rafah crossing into Gaza which has been used primarily by people traveling to and from Egypt, and from there to the rest of the world."
It goes on to explain that even on those sides where Gaza shares a border with Israel, there is not a full blockade of the coastal enclave. Everything outside of weapons and a short list of dual-use items are permitted to enter Gaza as normal. And the barring of those dual-use items has been fully justified by the discovery of a massive Hamas tunnel network:
"…for the past four years all goods are allowed to enter Gaza from Israel, except for weapons and a short list of dual-use items which can be exploited by terrorists. The ban on weapons and the restrictions on dual-use items stem from the fact that since 2007, Gaza has been ruled by a terrorist organization, namely Hamas, whose declared aim is the destruction of Israel. They are in place solely to protect Israel’s citizens from Hamas’ ongoing terrorist attacks."
The entry of normal, every day products and merchandise is determined by the Gaza market, not by Israel. The presence of a swank shopping mall, stocked open-air markets and upscale eateries is evidence of this:
"Not only do food, medicine, fuel and aid enter freely at all times, but in peacetime, commodities and consumer goods of every type are transferred daily from Israel to Gaza through the land crossing. The types and amounts of consumer goods are determined by Palestinian merchants and depend primarily on market forces in Gaza. For the more affluent, Gaza offers a variety of consumer opportunities, from a modestly-sized mall to upscale restaurants. Even during the latest hostilities in Gaza, an international journalist reported on shopping at one of Gaza’s supermarkets, which offered “all kinds of goods.”"
All of these goods enter Gaza by truck via Israel. Prior to the outbreak of this summer’s Gaza war, over 18,000 trucks carrying nearly 228,000 tons of supplies entered Gaza in the first five months of 2014.
In addition to consumer goods and produce, huge quantities of humanitarian aid, fuel, water and electricity are provided to Gaza largely free of charge (the Palestinian government is supposed to pay Israel for the water and electricity, but never does).
The MFA statement concluded:
"In light of all these facts, not only is it obvious that there is no siege on Gaza, but it is also not reasonable to say that as a whole the Gaza Strip is under an Israeli blockade.
"The economic plight of the Gaza Strip does not stem from a mythical siege, but from its rule by a recognized terrorist organization dedicated not to the welfare of its people, but to…advancing its agenda to destroy Israel."
The following is a short video clip produced by the MFA more succinctly explaining the situation:
PHOTO: A truck loaded with Israeli-produced medicine prepares to enter Gaza.