Skip to main content

Why a seaport won't solve Gaza's problems

Israel cannot simply offer some gestures to improve the situation in Gaza without negotiating a comprehensive solution to end the occupation.

The distress of 1.8 million besieged Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip less than an hour’s drive from central Israel does not trouble most Israelis — not to mention most of its elected officials. Few know that some 20,000 people live among the ruins of their homes damaged in Israeli bombings and that they are among some 90,000 Palestinians displaced from their homes, half of them children, according to a survey conducted from August to December 2015 by the IDP Working Group, published on April 6 in a comprehensive report issued by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The pub-goers in Tel Aviv aren’t bothered by the daily power outages affecting Gaza’s residents for 12 hours a day and more. According to data compiled by the nongovernmental organization Gisha, in 2015 there were days that residents of Gaza only had power for three to four hours. How many Israelis know that the unemployment rate in Gaza has reached 38.4%, and more than 50% among young people?

The prevailing Israeli attitudes toward the plight of the Gaza Strip’s residents can be summed up thus: “Anyone firing Qassam rockets at Jews deserves to suffer.” And now, a politician emerged last week from the right wing of the radical right, of all places, urging Israel to improve the lot of the Strip’s residents. The following remarks were made by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel from the Tkuma faction of HaBayit HaYehudi Party: “They don’t have any international port. … Why shouldn’t they have a port?” Ariel went on to address Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying, “Why do you keep expressing opposition and saying, ‘We will consider’? What’s to consider? We’ve been considering for 47 years. … Transfer gas to [the West Bank towns of] Nablus, Hebron, Tulkarm, Jenin. We have gas. Unconditionally. Not on condition of [Netanyahu’s] famous phrase — ‘If they give [peace and quiet], they will get [economic gestures].’ We are responsible for the area. Give them water.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.