I keep hearing about law and order in Gaza – but at what price? In the past few weeks there has been a resurgence in civil rights protest by Gazans. The reaction of Hamas will either reassure the wider world and encourage the end to the blockade or compound the impression that Gaza is a totalitarian terrorist incubator and make it more difficult to end the blockade. In response, Hamas has tightened up restrictions on gatherings with a ban Friday prayers – a spokesman justified the decision: “They went beyond the aim of prayers and were used for the purpose of chaos, strife, rioting, and practising terrorism.”
As Gaza businesses totter, unemployment soars and there are no exports, how to ease the material and mental isolation of the blockade? Negotiations. On the grounds that the rest of the Arab world recognises Israel, former Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevy recommends dropping the precondition for talks that Hamas also does so.
On Monday, Islamic Jihad narrowly missed 12 children when it hit a day-care centre in Sderot. Sderot parents are afraid and pulled their children from school until further notice. On Tuesday an IDF ground unit retaliated, and in doing so killed three Palestinian children who were playing in the area. When qassams harass Sderot what should the IDF do – reciprocate, disrupt the launch sites, adopt a policy of collective punishment, or show restraint? BTselem on qassams and retaliation.