Response to Avi Shlaim's Op-ed in Gaza


On Monday, The Guardian published this opinion piece by Avi Shlaim’s on Gaza ( ). Regrettably, it is extremely tendentious.

The situation in Gaza is indeed a human tragedy where there has been unnecessary loss of life in three major conflicts in ten years. Everyday existence for Gazans is bleak.

But the culpability for Gaza's tragedy sits with its Hamas rulers - an Islamist terrorist group committed to destroying Israel, and who murdered their internal Fatah Palestinian opponents upon seizing power.

Israel wanted Gaza to have self-rule and be an economic success - it withdrew from Gaza unilaterally in 2005 and forced Israeli settlers to leave to try to advance the peace process.

There is only an Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian Authority blockade of Gaza because Hamas is using every resource intended for civilians to build terror attack tunnels and missile arsenals - no such blockade exists of the Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israel has only carried out major military operations in Gaza when indiscriminate missile attacks by Hamas against Israeli civilians have reached intolerable levels of hundreds of missiles. Shlaim is dismissive of the missile attacks saying "Israel claimed to act in self-defence" as though the pounding of Israel's southern communities was irrelevant.

Shlaim's claim that Israel uses force as "first resort" is a lie - in every case Israel has shown restraint in the face of hugely provocative and dangerous missile attacks to a point far beyond what any other nation would tolerate before resorting to military responses.

Shlaim accuses Israel of collectively punishing Gazan civilians when in fact the IDF has gone to unprecedented lengths to try to avoid civilian casualties, despite Hamas’ best efforts to place its own civilians in harm's way - using schools, hospitals and mosques as bases.

He claims Israel are trying to "terrorise" Gazans into repudiating Hamas - but it’s actually Hamas that for 13 years has terrorised the people it governs - it is running a totalitarian regime

Shlaim says that Gaza is "the biggest open-door [sic] prison on Earth"

He's right

And Hamas are the guards.

- Luke Akehurst, Director of We Believe in Israel