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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Darkness Power outages 'loom over Gaza'

Calev Ben David tears apart the government's ridiculous policy of interrupting electricity to Gaza for fifteen minutes every time the 'Palestinians' shoot a Kassam at Israel (five were shot at Sderot over Shabbat):
At least one good thing has come out of the government's decision to cut electricity in parts of Gaza for brief periods following Kassam attacks - it generated a rare notice in Time magazine of the situation in Sderot.

"Hardly a day passes without a homemade rocket or two fired by Palestinian militants streaking crazily across the sky from Gaza and into Sderot," Time reports this week, one of the fewer than a half-dozen mentions of the town on the magazine's Web site over the past year (compared to dozens on the hardships in Gaza).

The bad news is that the mention came in an article ominously titled "Darkness Looms Over Gaza," which largely focuses on questioning the effectiveness, legality and morality of the "new clampdown on Gaza."

And this is before any lights have actually been extinguished there.

One can only imagine how the foreign television news networks will report from Gaza the first time that happens, even for just 15 minutes. Just don't expect to see much footage of Sderot residents scrambling for cover in those broadcasts.


The primary justification for cutting power to Gaza is the hope that it may discourage the firing of Kassams. But it's hard to find anyone in the government, even in the defense establishment, who actually supports that position.

Israel supplies some 60 percent of Gaza's electricity, and there are reportedly plenty of small portable generators in operation there.

It's unlikely the groups firing the Kassams care much if the average Gazan suffers as a result of their activities, something they've proven time and again (gunmen have reportedly even threatened residents of Beit Hanun who have publicly protested against their neighborhood being used as a launching pad).

If anything, the Hamas leadership will simply see this as a good opportunity to justify their continuing cross-border attacks.


Unfortunately, right now the government appears to be speaking out of both sides of its mouth, with the IDF threatening measures that affect the general Gazan population one day, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reassuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas the next that Israel won't be doing anything to cause a "crisis" there.


Cutting electricity to selected parts of Gaza for brief periods might seem like a low-cost, low-risk temporary answer to meet that demand.

It's not.

As "darkness looms over Gaza," another dark cloud will loom over Israeli policy toward the Palestinians in the arena of international public opinion, just when this government needs it least: as it prepares to renew serious negotiations with the Palestinians in the glaring global spotlight of the Annapolis conference.

The government and the IDF must do whatever they can to protect the citizens of Sderot. That means more serious military steps and heavier investment in protective measures. Cosmetic power cuts only make it look as if it is Israel, and not the Palestinians, who is stumbling in the dark, at least when it comes to formulating a coherent policy on Gaza.
I wonder what will happen if God forbid there is a mass casualty attack on Sderot the week before the Annapolis summit mugging. Will Olmert still go? Will Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu stay in the government? Stay tuned.


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