Sunday, August 10, 2014

  • Sunday, August 10, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon
Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch yet again proves his gross ignorance on Twitter:

Guess what? That is exactly what Israel does!

Here's a slightly updated repost of an article I wrote last December, after my visit to the Kerem Shalom crossing- a visit that most reporters are too lazy to do themselves:

On Wednesday, I visited both the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings and spoke to Israeli officials there.

I spend a lot of time reading about Gaza from Arabic and English news sources, but I learned a great deal from my meetings that I was unaware of. I hope to blog much more about it as I find time.

But there is one crucial fact about Gaza that has never been reported anywhere, as far as I can tell. 

There is no reason whatsoever to "reopen the crossings" because Kerem Shalom can handle all of Gaza's import and export needs. 

In fact, Kerem Shalom can handle more goods than all of the closed crossings ever could - combined

Crossings such as Nahal Oz and Karni were closed over the years because they weren't secure. Those crossings were a tempting target for terrorists to attack. They can never re-open.

But Kerem Shalom - a hugely expansive and extraordinarily impressive feat of engineering and logistics - was sized to handle all of Gaza's needs if necessary. And it can do it without risking any Israeli lives (a forthcoming post will go into more detail.)

Here are all the limits of imports and exports to and from Gaza from what I learned today:

Besides a small list of "dual use" materialsIsrael imposes no restrictions on Gaza imports. Even some of the "dual use" materials can be imported under certain conditions - for example, international NGOs can import construction materials. Israel allows potentially dual use items, such as CO2, to be imported on a case by case basis as well.

The head of the crossing told me that the idea of limiting cement and other construction material to "international agencies" was a joke. He said UNRWA doesn't send their own trucks to pick up the cement; they rely on contractors who he knows well, and he knows that they redirect some of the materials meant for agencies like UNRWA to the black market and to Hamas. The people ordering the items purposefully overestimate the amount needed so cement can be diverted - and some no doubt go to Hamas terror tunnels. 

Workers are the crossing see Jacuzzis and BMWs being imported into Gaza. 

Some said that Gaza did not have adequate pumps to handle the flooding (last year)  because of Israeli restrictions. Nonsense. I asked specifically if water pumps are a "dual use" item and they are not. This was Gaza's government not being prepared, and nothing to do with the "blockade."

If needed, Kerem Shalom can run on three shifts, 24/7. But today there isn't the demand. 

All Gaza imports are arranged between Gaza businessmen and NGOs, and Israeli or other suppliers. If Gazans needs more, they can buy it. There are no practical limits on how much Gaza can import even if its economy grew dramatically. No limits on fuel. No limits on raw materials for factories (again, except dual use materials.)

Kerem Shalom is building new pipelines for fuel, and increasing capacity of existing pipelines, in anticipation of a potential dramatic increase of demand as a result of Egypt's closure of Gaza. Right now, because of Hamas and PA infighting, the demand is not there and Kerem Shalom is not using close to its full capacity for fuel.

There are also no limits imposed by Israel on how much Gaza can export. Really.

After Hamas took over Gaza, Israel decided not to import goods from Gaza anymore - for good reason. Israel also limits exports to PA administered areas before the peace process gets moving again. But if Gazans can find markets in Europe and the US and the Arab world for goods, Israel is not stopping them at all. On the contrary, Israel is helping Gaza farmers export goods. 

There have been some limited attempts to export furniture, clothing and other goods from Gaza. Right now Gaza farmers and manufacturers are dependent on Israeli exporters and must follow international rules for exports, so there are some regulatory hurdles that must be overcome, just as with any exporter. But there is no practical limit on how much Gaza can export. (Recently, Gaza exported potatoes to Jordan, but Jordan does not want them to protect its own domestic market.)

Yes, Israel has a naval blockade on Gaza, and the laws of a legal blockade is that there can be no distinction between types of ships allowed. If Israel wants to block Gaza from getting weapons - and there have been attempts to ship large amounts of weapons to Gaza by sea - then Israel must also ban commercial ships. That's the way it is, and it cannot be changed without allowing Francops and Karine-A's filled with weapons to be sent to Gaza.

But Gaza does not need to import goods from the sea - because Kerem Shalom is large enough to handle all of Gaza's needs, even if the current construction material limits are lifted.

Every single time an NGO or government calls for Israel to "lift the blockade," they are ignoring the facts.

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