Anyone following media reports about the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip did not need the assessment offered by Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevy that the powder keg that is Gaza will blow up in Israel’s face. A recent survey commissioned by the Israeli human rights organization Gisha shows that 67% of Israelis believe the nearly decadelong Israeli blockade of Gaza has undermined Israeli security, and 70% believe that an improvement in the living conditions of Gaza residents would reduce the level of anti-Israel hostility and violence.
Halevy based his March 1 closed-door briefing to members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, among other things, on a 2015 United Nations report warning that if current trends persist in the Gaza Strip, by 2020 Gaza will not be fit for human habitation. The UN Conference on Trade and Development that compiled the report noted the destructive effects on the enclave of its three wars with Israel since 2009. The last and longest, Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, led to the displacement of half a million Gaza Palestinians from their homes and pushed the majority deeper into poverty. With unemployment at 44%, 72% of Gaza’s households suffer from food insecurity.