Imagine yourself driving on a road somewhere on your way home, when suddenly a red light slows you down. While you’re waiting for the light to go green again, out of nowhere arrives a homeless person, and by his visible scars on his wrists, it is apparent he is also a drug addict. The man passes through some of the waiting cars and asks the drivers for donations, and finally reaches the end of the line to your vehicle. “Can I have some spare change?” he asks, while waving to your window a plastic cup half-full with some coins with his shaky hand. You are a compassionate person, and therefore you pity the man and want to help him. You happen to have a bit of change in your pocket, and at that moment, it seems as if the most natural and moral thing to do would be to have your hand reach to it, grab your change, and hand it to the homeless so he may survive another day.
But then, all of a sudden, a disturbing thought flows through your mind: it can very well be that the drugs he was using over the years are what brought him to this shape in the first place. What if the money you’ll hand him will be used to purchase more of these destructive drugs? Will it really help the man overcome his weaknesses and help him rehabilitate, or will the money just deteriorate him further, eliminating any chance of him being cured?
Hesitant but carefully thought, you encourage the man to get into a rehabilitation facility so he may be helped, and drive off. Looking through the mirror, it seems the man became very angry and frustrated, but for you, it felt like the right thing to do. The first thing you do when you get home, is check if there’s a rehabilitation facility around the area you can donate a fine sum to, knowing that doing so can potentially do much better for drug addicts such as the man you saw on the road than giving that man some change.
The story has a happy ending: considering your suggestion, the man on the road finally decides to get himself together, enter rehab, and in a relatively short time the man starts to rehabilitate and his life gets back on track. The man thanks you in his heart, for had you not encouraged him to go through the rehab process and just given him some change, his life could have ended very sadly.
So why am I telling such a story right here at the TOI blog anyway? It doesn’t seem like it belongs here.
The proverb above is a story I made up with the intention of describing the different elements after operation “Protective Edge” in the context of what occurred on Sunday at the Cairo conference. Those of you who are quick thinkers can already understand who portrays what: the Gazan civilians are the man on road, the Hamas terror group and its campaign of terror on Israel are the drugs that are killing the man, and the $5.4 billion donated to the reconstruction of Gaza by the world community represents the change that was in your pocket which you considered handing to the man.
The fundamental difference between my proverb and Gaza’s story is that the latter does not end well. Not at all. That is because the world community, the west included, has decided to donate generously to the reconstruction of the strip, knowing that it is very probable that this aid money will end up once again rebuilding Hamas’ weapons stocks, and that maybe a pinch of these sums will be used for the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants. Instead of stipulating that the needed money will be transferred when Hamas will disarm totally and unconditionally (or, as in my story, the “rehabilitation facility”), the world community has decided to conveniently close its eyes once again to the circumstances in Gaza at best, or willingly donate to Hamas’ nefarious cause (see Qatar for example). It is allowing the horrible saga in which Hamas’ reign continues while the Gazan civilians are exploited from the aid that was intended for them, for the sole purpose of financing Hamas and destroying the state of Israel. And after Hamas will once again launch another attack, as it had time and time again, Israel will once again do what any other state would do, which is to protect itself, Hamas will once again hide in civilian areas and use innocents as human shields, both populations will bleed, there will be more destruction photos of Gaza, and another generous contribution from the world to Hamas. Repeat.
This magic cycle is exactly what Hamas wants, for it is Hamas’ degrading economic condition that serves as one of the main reasons the terrorist organization initiated its attack on Israel in the first place.
There are a few reasons for Hamas reaching this condition: The Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to transfer aid money to Hamas despite its promises, Hamas’ criminal use of its resources, the destruction of the smuggling tunnels from Egypt and its blockade ever since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power, and the Israeli blockade since 2007, as a means of self defense (after rockets were launched to Israeli civilian areas when the state disengaged from the strip back in 2005).
Another round of rockets on Israel, and all of a sudden, like magic, comes an open check which strengthens Hamas’ weapons and the already-fat pockets of Hamas’ leaders.
And it is exactly this sad procedure that this lonesome man on the road goes through when injecting another shot, that same process in which the Gazan population is being starved and violated by Hamas. I’m talking about the population that could’ve become the Singapore of the Middle East, but democratically voted Hamas into power after the disengagement, and is paying the price to this day. And like the drugs are slowly but surely killing this man on the road, so does the continued presence of Hamas in the strip brings more and more suffering to its population.
I have no problem whatsoever with the aid itself, in principal, coming to Gaza. On the contrary – I am all for building more schools, more universities, more hospitals, and bringing more resources to Gaza, but it is for that reason exactly, that the world community should have made the necessary steps to ensure that money would reach where it needs to – and that didn’t happen. And with that, the world has sentenced the Gazan population to further misery.
When will the world understand that ending the Gaza-Israel cycle will happen only when Hamas is demilitarized and out of Gaza? At least the man on the road had a choice to go to rehab.