Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Daniel Larison, The Blockade Keeps “Working”

If Gazans haven’t overthrown Hamas yet, just wait a few more years and see what happens. A few more years becomes a decade, and then two decades, and in the end the blockade becomes essentially a permanent feature. Even if Hamas is eventually overthrown by people in Gaza, it will likely be by a more radical faction that comes to see Hamas as corrupt and ineffective, much as Hamas saw Fatah, and the rise of that faction will provide new justification for continuing the blockade.

There is a certain perverse logic to all of this. The misery, poverty and hopelessness created by a virtually stagnant private economy in a densely-populated, isolated enclave radicalizes the population even more, but more than that it deprives them of the incentive to turn against their own leadership and it makes them incapable of organizing effective resistance against the local regime. Everything about the blockade ensures that the political conditions in Gaza can only get worse, but lifting the blockade depends on the improvement of those conditions. Sometimes critics will refer to Gaza as an “open-air prison,” but the remarkable thing about the situation is that Israel and Hamas effectively collaborate as the jailors of the civilian population: Israel hems them in and controls their access to the outside world, and Hamas runs internal security to keep the population under their control. Officially, Israel claims that it wants a prison riot to break out, but by their actions the Israeli government seems satisfied to bring about a very different outcome.

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