The outrage caused by Isreal’s deadly attack on the Gaza aid flotilla last month has forced the international community to pay attention to the unacceptable nature of the blockade itself.
However attention alone is not enough, now is the time for the UN and the EU to take action.
Israel has once again set itself as an outsider, refusing to abide by international law despite global demand for an impartial investigation into the May 31 commando raid.
Following international pressure, Israel announced this week that it is slightly easing the blockade of the Gaza Strip but the reality of how this will play out is yet unclear. Instead of promising aid, the US and UK should be demanding an entire policy shift.
The tight restrictions on Gaza will remain as long as there are ‘security concerns’ but this vague description of Israeli justification also allows the prohibition of purely civilian goods and it is not simply weapons that are being blocked. This is a poorly constructed veil for the broader punishment of the people of Gaza.
If the US is to send $400m of aid, which signals a shift in approach, then questions need to be answered in regard to how this aid is used and delivered.
The continued efforts to strangle any economic growth in the region, preventing any industry to develop by imposing well thought out restrictions – on coffee beans, but not ground coffee – is chilling. The erratic nature of restrictions mean that the US will effectively have very little control the aid and what it does not replace is political responsibility.
More to the point, this is no longer a simple issue of aid. This is a deeply felt humanitarian crisis. Of course, aid is useful, and the message it sends about America’s position on developments in the region is positive but what would be more effective is a direct and unquestionable condemnation of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
There undoubtedly needs to be an impartial investigation into the flotilla raids and a careful approach to lifting the ‘unsustainable’ blockade. Israel cannot continue to use force to play out its political objectives which is only contributing to its isolation. The result of this is brutally damaging for both developments in the region and for international diplomacy.