What Goods Are Affected by the Blockade?

by Kevin Jon Heller

I’m not about to get into a debate over whether there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza; you either think there is or you don’t, and facts won’t matter.  So I thought I would simply post the following chart from that notorious left-wing propaganda outlet The Economist and let readers judge for themselves whether the blockade is designed solely to prevent weapon-smuggling:

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Nasty comments will be deleted.  (And I’ve been impressed by the quality of the debate so far.)


7 Responses

  1. I’m fairly certain that engaging in conflict with Israel by Hamas requires more than just “weapons”.  Most armies use pencils at some point, while an absurd example, I think confining the embargo to “just weapons” to stop a military conflict is equally extreme.

    Having said that, if “war is just politics by other means”, then obviously there are political ramifications to some of the prohibited items. Demoralizing a populace that hosts your enemy is not unheard of.

    So, I’ll cut it short, my point is…conflicts are not just weapons (and Hamas regulars are often doubling as civilians so there is that other dubious distinction people forget with terrorist groups).

  2. But how does coriander provoke rocket attacks while cinnamon is devoid of violent intent? Musical intstruments are prohibited while chemical fertilizers and pesticides (the building blocks of lethal explosive and gases respectively) are allowed?

    The senseless nature of this list illustrates that the Israeli blockade has gone far beyond self protection and into the kind of collective punishment banned by the Fourth Geneva Convention. * The ban against collective punishment arose in part from Europe’s experiences in WW2, where entire communities were punished for the resistance actions of a smaller group. Hamas is by no means the Danish Resistance but the despicable nature of the insurgent group doesn’t excuse punitive actions against civilians.

    And just like the 2004 ICJ ruling against Israel’s collective punishment of the Palestinians this, too, will go without redress.
    *(Arguments about the Palestinians’ status as protected persons are expected)

  3. As far as I know, legally a blockade can be total with the exception of food, water and medical aid – those things needed to sustain life.  Israel must let those things through, and does.  It does not have to let everything through, so as long as coriander is not a necessity for life, it’s OK that Israel doesn’t let it in.

    So the question will arise whether Israel lets in enough of those things necessary to sustain life.  Given that Hamas uses the supplies that come in for other purposes (even UNWRA – not known for pro-Israeli sentiments – have accused Hamas police of confiscating aid that was meant for civilians) doesn’t tell us whether Israel is letting in enough or not.

    In fact, nearly a ton of aid per man, woman and child was delivered through Israel to Gaza over the last 18 months.

    It’s not up to Israel to determine whether it gets used to help civilians or Hamas leadership (would that it were).  Nor does Israel need to let in more if the Gazan government squanders it.   Using water and building supplies on the likes of Olympic sized swimming pools when people are starving would not have been my choice.

  4. Considering that all aid trucks are kept waiting at the checkpoints for weeks before admission, what could be the purpose of

    canned/dried food being prohibited and
    fresh/frozen food being permitted?

  5. Permitting fish but not fishing equipment, clothing rather than raw textiles, fodder but not beasts of burden looks a lot to me like a policy to keep Gaza from developing any domestic industry (even if they had room for such things) and keeping the Gazans dependent. In other words, the Israelis look like they’re willing to give the man the fish, as long as they can deny him the ability to fish for himself. Not illegal, but a pretty rotten.

  6. When you go to a friendly airport, you may expect that everything will get through except weapons and weaponisable material.  The border to an enemy territory doesn’t need to be that generous.

    Remember, there was no blockade before the rockets starting falling on Sderot.

  7. After being lured here by a link about the legal discussion on the blockade I find myself glued to the set somewhat. The quality of debate here is good, something I’ve always assumed but not always seen from the legal profession when the I/P confict is brought up. Kevin if you’re having problems with interlocutors then feel free to say & I’ll desist from posting, but just can’t resist one shot…..

    I’d think the actual items being stopped are hardly the issue, rather why they’re being banned and whether they’re even banned at all being of import. It’s been stated that Israel treat this on a case-by-case basis, which if true leads one to assume they judge not the goods so much but the party(s) shipping them and the intended recipient.  Complaining about coriander is all very nice & makes a rather shrill & provocatively  emotive charge against Israel, but if the shipment of coriander was addressed to a flash restaurant that the Hamas elite were known to frequent then perhaps it might not be so unjustified after all.  Were those items on the list actually banned or were they refused entry because of who they were intended for?

    When the word ‘ban’ crops up in this context it’s never revealed if it’s a blanket ban or a selective one, ie Israel might only ban certain goods when they believe the shipper has ill intent and/or the  recipient will be unfairly rewarded. It’s well known that Fatah supporters get nothing from the Hamas ruling authority, so is the stopping of goods intended for Hamas members only a punishment or just treatment?

    As Kevin points out, facts don’t matter to so many people when one considers that the one known fact on this issue is there aren’t enough facts to form a reasonable opinion.

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