Thursday, November 27, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Gaza blockade key to any Israel-Hamas truce deal

By
From page B10 | July 23, 2014 |

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Ibrahim Zain was driven from his home by Israeli tank fire this week, but says he’d rather endure more Israel-Hamas fighting than accept an unconditional cease-fire he fears will leave in place the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Like Zain, many Gaza residents say the closure, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized Gaza in 2007, is like a slow death: It prevents them from traveling, from importing cement to build homes and increasingly from earning enough to feed their families.

“We want a good life or no life,” said the unemployed 44-year-old father of nine whose small scrap metal business fell victim to the blockade last year.

Disagreement over whether and how to lift the Gaza closure is a key stumbling block to ending more than two weeks of fighting between the Islamic militant Hamas and Israel.

And in a way, it is emerging as the Gazan equivalent of what is single-mindedly driving the Israelis — the rocket fire from Gaza, which they feel must stop at almost any cost. For the Gazans, it is the blockade that must stop, and the fact that Hamas is demanding this appears to have gained its tactics genuine support.

Egypt wants an immediate end to hostilities, followed by undefined talks about easing access to Gaza. Israel accepted, but Hamas wants international guarantees that Gaza’s borders will open before it stops fighting. Hamas distrusts Israel and Egypt, whose rulers tightened the Gaza blockade even more over the past year, pushing Hamas into a severe financial crisis.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, who is mediating, took a middle ground Tuesday. He said fighting must stop now, but that underlying problems setting off repeated violence between Israel and Gaza must be addressed. Ban did not say whether Gaza should be opened, but that “no closure, no barrier, can separate Israelis and Palestinians from a fundamental truth: You share a common future.”

Gaza residents say that without open borders, their lives will become increasingly desperate.

“Open the blockade and then we halt fire,” said Gaza City street cleaner Said Abu Seif, 40, as he cleared away debris Tuesday morning from a mosque and a gas station damaged hours earlier in an Israeli airstrike. If the closure continues, he said, “I don’t see a future for my children.”

The last two weeks of fighting, including Israeli airstrikes and tank shelling, have led to widespread misery for Gaza’s civilians. More than 620 Palestinians have been killed, more than 3,700 wounded and hundreds of houses damaged or destroyed. More than 100,000 people have sought shelter in U.N. schools where dozens are squeezed into each classroom.

Despite the devastation, there has been no visible criticism of Hamas among Gazans for provoking such attacks by firing rockets at Israel.

A resident of Shijaiyah, a Gaza City neighborhood devastated by heavy fighting over the weekend, said some of his neighbors privately blame Hamas for the destruction but would never speak in public for fear of Hamas retribution. The resident spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.

Others, like Abu Seif, the street cleaner, said even though they are not Hamas supporters, they back the group’s goal to open Gaza’s borders, by force if necessary.

Polls have suggested that only about one-third of Gaza’s 1.7 million people are supporters of Hamas, while others either back its rival, the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, or are not affiliated.

In times of confrontation with Israel, the popularity of Hamas tends to increase, while that of Abbas, who espouses non-violence and negotiations with Israel, tends to drop.

Israel has said it is attacking Hamas targets to halt rocket fire from Gaza on Israel. It has accused the militants of using civilians as human shields by firing rockets from densely populated areas and storing weapons inside civilian sites.

“The people of Gaza suffer because of the Hamas regime, a regime that sacrifices the people of Gaza for its very extreme agenda,” said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. Hamas, a branch of the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood, wants to establish an Islamic state in historic Palestine, including what is now Israel, and has killed hundreds of Israelis since the 1980s.

Hamas won Palestinian parliament elections in 2006, defeating Fatah by a wide margin. A year later, after power-sharing efforts failed, Hamas forces seized Gaza, driving out troops loyal to Abbas, who remained in control of the other Palestinian territory, the West Bank. In response to the takeover, Israel and Egypt sealed Gaza’s borders, in hopes the restrictions would make it difficult for Hamas to govern and eventually topple the group.

Instead, Hamas established a firm grip on Gaza, mainly by building hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border and earning tens of millions of dollars a year in customs and taxes on fuel, cigarettes and consumer goods transported into Gaza. At the same time, it sidelined political rivals and silenced dissent.

The international community has set out conditions for Hamas to be accepted, chiefly acquiescence to the Palestinians’ past agreements with Israel, but this runs counter to the group’s central ethos. If Hamas changed its stripes this way it would probably also end the blockade, but the issue almost never comes up now amid the din and anger of war.

Hamas’ situation deteriorated sharply after the Egyptian military toppled a Muslim Brotherhood-run government in Egypt last year. Egypt’s new rulers blamed the group for increased militant activity in the Sinai Peninsula that borders Gaza and shut down the smuggling tunnels, depriving Gaza of a main lifeline.

A year later, Hamas is mired in its worst-ever financial crisis, unable to pay salaries for 40,000 civil servants and security forces.

Gaza’s official unemployment is close to 50 percent, though Gaza economist Omar Shaban believes the real figure is over 60 percent, if counting underemployment.

Zain, the Gaza man driven from his home by the fighting, said he used to make a living selling scrap metal for $150 a ton to Egypt, exporting through the tunnels. Once Egypt closed the tunnels, he was out of business, no longer able to provide for his nine children, he said.

Much of the construction sector and local manufacturing have been wiped out because Israel bars virtually all exports from Gaza and prevents imports of cement and steel for fear Hamas will divert them for building tunnels. Such tunnels are now a central target for Israeli forces, and in recent days Hamas militants have repeatedly tried to sneak into Israel through tunnels to carry out attacks.

The Rafah passenger crossing between Gaza and Egypt is closed more days than it is open, and only certain groups of people can travel, including medical patients and Gaza residents with foreign passports. Even for those, there’s a waiting list of 15,000 people, according to Hamas border authorities.

Shaban said Gazans must be allowed to trade and travel. Otherwise, “Gaza will explode … and these people will become more radical because they have nothing to lose,” he said. “We should not allow Gaza to go there.”

However, Egypt and Israel are unlikely to lift the closure because enabling Gaza to thrive will keep Hamas rooted there.

One plan would have forces loyal to Abbas stationed on the Gaza side of Rafah, but it’s not clear if Hamas would be willing to give up control to such an extent. A power-sharing deal between Abbas and Hamas earlier this year quickly ran aground over unresolved disputes.

Qatar and Turkey have invested in Gaza, starting to build hospitals, roads and a housing complex for tens of millions of dollars, but projects have stalled over access problems.

In this quagmire, some in Gaza say they’d rather see the fighting continue than accept an unconditional cease-fire that would likely perpetuate the closure. Mohammed Hassouneh, a Gaza City barber, said he barely has clients because the closure left most of them broke.

“The war can continue another month or two, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “As long as our demands are met.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Middle Green Valley plan moves forward

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

     
    School district continues look into Armijo grade-change scandal

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Veterans ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    New focus on achievement gap of black males

    By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

    Sandbags available in advance of storms

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Vacaville art gallery schedules open house

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

     
    What’s the matter with Kansas Street?

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Governments shut doors for holiday

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

     
    Fairfield police log: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

     
    Suisun police log: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

    Weather for Nov. 27, 2014

    By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

     
    .

    US / World

    Passengers in Russia’s Arctic give airliner a push

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Armored vehicle nixed by Davis ends up in Woodland

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

    Court: No warrant needed to draw parolees’ blood

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

     
    Heart stent for Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 81

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Snow makes Thanksgiving travel ‘a little hairy’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Union focuses on security guards at Apple

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Homeless man beaten to death in San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Obama administration sets stricter smog standard

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Obama gets the bill for White House Thanksgiving

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    American among hostages targeted in Yemen raid

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Sierra Leone official: Ebola may have reached peak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Hong Kong police arrest key protesters, clear site

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Canada police arrest ex-radio host in sex case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Impoverished Lebanese city is target for IS group

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Spy balloons give police new view of Jerusalem

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    Grand jury documents rife with inconsistencies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    Small crowd protests in Oakland for third night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

    Ferguson residents clean up, hope for calm night

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Nov. 27, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 27, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscope for Nov. 27, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    Nursing homes full of opportunities for giving

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Hanks, wife to host Christmas tree lighting

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    With shake-ups, AC/DC perseveres with album, tour

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    875 hours of holiday programming on TV last year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    Missing model-restaurateur B. Smith found in NYC

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    Garth Brooks cites Ferguson for cancellation

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

    University in Tennessee cancels Cosby appearance

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

     
    .

    Sports

    Seahawks, 49ers meet for 1st time this season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Panda heads put away with Sandoval’s departure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    All City football: Vikings sweep top honors

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    San Francisco’s bid for 2024 Olympics taking shape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    NFL might not flex any Sunday night games in 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Raiders’ Woodson expects to play in 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Curry, 3s too much for Magic; Warriors win 111-96

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Sharks sign emergency backup goalie

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Spurs’ Popovich undergoes medical procedure

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    AP source: Tomas in process of deal with D’backs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Harden leads Rockets past Kings 102-89

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Smith to start at QB for Jets vs. Dolphins on MNF

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Butler knocks off No. 5 North Carolina, 74-66

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    RG3 benched: Redskins to start Colt McCoy vs. Indy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Atletico Madrid, Arsenal reach knockout phase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Business

    Twitter now tracks other apps you’ve installed

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Health insurance sign-ups coming to shopping malls

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    FBI data show thousands of gun sales beat checks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    US new home sales up 0.7 percent in October

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    US agency threatens to act against air bag maker

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Esther Ringler

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Dora Maria Aranda

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

    Adrian Looy

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Holiday Gift Guide 2014

    Why millennials prefer electronic gift cards

    By The Washington Post | From Page: HGG2

    How to give holiday gift cards

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG2

    How to establish gift spending limits

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG3

    Teen gifts: ideas for hard-to-buy-for big kids

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG3

    Novice crafter? There’s a project for that!

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG6

    Gift ideas for the special seniors in your life

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG6

    Time and money-saving holiday gift ideas

    By Statepoint Media | From Page: HGG7

    Oy vey, holidays! Does Hanukkah wannabe Christmas?

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG7

    How to save on high-tech gifts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG10

    Shop top finalists for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG11

    Sharing music: a personal gift made easy by tech

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG12

    Great gifts for music lovers

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG13

    Kitchen gift-giving made easy with personality profiles

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

    Great gifts for the family foodie

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG14

    Holiday shows abound in Solano County

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: HGG17

    Great gifts for people who love to read

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG19

    An oft-elusive yet gifty treat: coffee table books

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG19

    Eco-friendly gift ideas for ‘green’ giving

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Things to consider before buying this holiday season

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Steps to take before giving pets as gifts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    2014 holiday toy predictions

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG22

    Trend-setting gifts for the women on your holiday shopping list

    By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG23

    Gifts to keep kids engaged

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG25

    Gift wrap tricks to save time

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG26

    Save time and energy with a family gift this holiday season

    By Brandpoint Content | From Page: HGG27

    Right at Home: gifts you can use – and use up

    By The Associated Press | From Page: HGG30

    How to send gifts to faraway friends and family

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30

    Gift exchange dos and don’ts

    By Metro Creative Graphics | From Page: HGG30