By David Isaac
It’s been over three months since Gaza’s Arabs began setting fire to the Gaza envelope. It’s only Wednesday and already 1,000 acres have been burnt this week. So far, a total of 7,500 acres have been set on fire. On Monday Israel’s government announced the closing of the Kerem Shalom border crossing – the main entry into and out of the Gaza Strip from Israel.
Most will find it hard to understand why Israel has been supplying the Gaza Strip all this time. Even Monday’s announcement is only a partial closure. ‘Humanitarian supplies’ will continue to ship in. Some 641 trucks were set to enter yesterday – 22 of them tankers full of gas. Given that Hamas cares not at all for its population, Israel shouldn’t be surprised if that gas is redirected back at it via balloon mail.
It’s also hard to understand how Israel has allowed this to go on for so long. Part of the fault lies with Israel’s military. As Caroline Glick pointed out in May, the IDF’s knee-jerk reaction has been to call for more aid into Gaza, hoping this will reduce media hostility by showing it has made efforts to solve the humanitarian crisis. As Glick notes:
“When the IDF offers humanitarian assistance to Gaza, it is playing the sucker role Hamas has given it. When Israel offers humanitarian assistance, it is presenting itself as capable of ameliorating a situation it didn’t cause, hasn’t contributed to and cannot fix.”
Another factor behind the delayed response might be Netanyahu himself. Some say that Netanyahu’s eyes are on the North of the country and Iran’s intentions in Syria and so wants to avoid escalation in the South. Netanyahu has for a long time characterized the Israeli-Arab conflict as a local problem, preferring to minimize it in favor of focusing on Iran.
Closing Kerem Crossing
Why did Israel close the crossing now? Possibly Netanyahu started to feel the heat from another direction – namely the opposition parties. “Netanyahu is no longer Mr. Security, maybe he’s Mr. Microphone. The South burns, and Netanyahu flees responsibility,” rebuked Avi Gabbay, leader of the Labour Party and the joint Zionist Union ticket. Yesh Atid Leader Yair Lapid noted that if Netanyahu was in the opposition he would be down on the border screaming about the lack of action. Such accusations stick.
Netanyahu might also sense that the public has had enough. Echoing the feeling of many, Yediot Achronot columnist Ben-Dror Yemini wrote yesterday: “This is becoming an insufferable routine. No government in the world would permit a terror organization or its emissaries to burn an area the size of a medium-size city without any response. The deterrent power of Israel is eroding. The power of Hamas is rising. For how long?”
It is truly sad to see what has happened to the south of the country. Though few environmentalists seem to raise a voice, vast areas have been turned to black. Huge swaths of vegetation and animal life have been destroyed – particularly touching was the sight of a turtle shell in the middle of a burnt field. It didn’t stand a chance. Those animals that can flee will only return to find they’re short of food. A group of photographers attempted to document the destruction. You can see their images here.
A turtle that couldn’t escape the Arab arson. Credit: Orit Malihi
Dr. Assaf Tzoar, an ecologist with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, told Army Radio that if the current situation continues, the ecological damage to the landscape could be permanent.
In the meantime, the kites keep coming.
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Photo Credit: Tomer Ben Haim