Unfortunately, the Gaza Blockade Must Remain

Many prominent figures have campaigned for an easing and even the complete lifting of Israel’s legal naval blockade on the Gaza Strip. They claim this is the best way to help civilians in Gaza.

But lifting the blockade while allowing Hamas to stay in power would only perpetuate the conflict in Gaza, as it would allow Hamas to gain even more weapons capabilities. This would lead to another war that would devastate Israeli civilians and lead to even further turmoil for innocent Gazans. The bottom line: Lifting the naval blockade would only further harm civilians in Gaza, as Hamas would launch even more attacks from behind its civilians and intentionally throw even more Gazan civilians into the line of fire.

Before we explore this further, we need to make very clear who Hamas is and what it stands for. Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization that aims to exterminate the Jewish people and destroy the Jewish state. Its founding charter states this; its leaders say this on a regular basis; and the group (along with other terrorist organizations in Gaza) has fired more than 11,000 rockets at Israeli civilians (since Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005) and has dug dozens of terror tunnels to try to achieve this.

Hamas violates cease-fires, uses its own civilians as human shields and child-laborers (the group killed 160 children while building their terror tunnels), and steals humanitarian aid for its war against Israel. Hamas leaders declare on a regular basis that they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.

It is also important to realize that Israel only imposed its naval blockade on Gaza (which is legal under international law) to stop Hamas from smuggling weapons into the Strip that would ultimately be used to fire at Israeli civilians.

Here’s why lifting the naval blockade would lead to even more devastation for Israeli and Gazan civilians:

First, as implied earlier, lifting the naval blockade would allow Hamas to import advanced weaponry into Gaza. The group has been trying to do this for years, so why should we believe they will suddenly stop if Israel lifts the blockade? Many will argue that Israel should only lift the blockade if Hamas signs an agreement saying it will stop importing weapons. But given Hamas’s history of trying to import weapons, its continuous calls for the destruction of Israel, and its history of breaking every deal it has ever signed, why should Israel believe that Hamas will keep its word?

Many people will then argue that an international force, such as the United Nations, could monitor goods flowing into Gaza and make sure Hamas does not import weapons. This is problematic for two reasons.

First, these international forces are already in Gaza and they have proven to be ineffective. The UN has a large presence in Gaza with many UN-sponsored schools and medical facilities. Here are the results so far from UN intervention:

International intervention has never worked with Hamas. There is no reason to believe it will work this time. And if it does not work, civilians on both sides will pay the price.

The largest problem with advocating for an international force to monitor weapons into Gaza, however, is that it forces the Jewish state and the Jewish people to put their security in the hands of others. Those who advocate for this are asking Israel to put the well-being of its citizens in the hands of international bodies that have proven to fail, and into the hands of a terrorist organization bent on its destruction.

The second major reason why Israel must not lift its naval blockade is because lifting the blockade will lead to more war that will devastate both Israeli and Gazan civilians.

If Hamas is able to import more weapons, it will launch another major offensive against Israeli civilians that will lead to another war. Hamas did this in 2008; it did this in 2012; and it did this in 2014. If given the opportunity (based off its previous actions and the fact that its leaders tell us they will try to destroy Israel again), Hamas will start another war in the near future.

This war, similar to the past three wars, will result in massive devastation on both sides. Hamas will launch thousands of rockets at Israel (rockets that are likely to be more advanced than Hamas weaponry today, as is the case when comparing Hamas’s 2012 capabilities to today), while Israel will defend itself by targeting the Hamas terrorists in Gaza. And because Hamas intentionally puts civilians in harm’s way and conducts its terrorist activities from schools, hospitals, and mosques, Gazan civilians will surely pay the price.

Gazan civilians are suffering, but we must attack the core of the problem if we are ever to solve it.  And the core of the problem is Hamas, not Israel’s legal and sensible blockade.

About the Author
Zach is the Managing Director of ZOA Campus, the campus branch of the Zionist Organization of America. Before working for the ZOA, he worked in Israel advocacy in Tel Aviv. Zach is a graduate of the University of Minnesota's School of Journalism.
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