Gisha Executive Director Tania Hary interviewed by Peter Beinart on the Foundation for Middle East Peace Podcast

On November 4, Gisha’s Executive Director Tania Hary was interviewed by American journalist and political commentator Peter Beinart on the Foundation for Middle East Peace’s podcast, Occupied Thoughts.

Among other issues discussed in the episode, Beinart asked Hary about Israel’s security grounds for enforcing the closure on Gaza, which many people accept as justification for the restrictions Israel imposes on movement of people and goods to and from the Strip.

“To look at that argument you need to take a step back and realize that Israel has controlled most of Gaza’s borders for many years, since 1967,” said Hary. “Gaza’s main pedestrian crossing and only commercial crossing are under Israel’s control, and were already controlled by Israel before Hamas took over, even after the Disengagement. When Hamas took control of the Strip in 2007, Israel closed the borders to most access and enforced what it called at the time “economic warfare,” a policy of sanctions. The idea at the time was not just based on security, which would have been legitimate – that is, the idea that you need to block arms or certain people who could endanger Israel’s security. Rather, the idea was to enforce a policy that by its very nature attacked the economy, that blocked people and goods that even Israel would agree posed no threat, because the point was to put pressure on the population. […] That’s still the concept today. It’s not just about security, unfortunately, it’s about much more than that.”

Referring to the United Nation’s report, which predicted that Gaza would become unlivable by 2020, Beinart asked Hary in what ways Gaza may be on the brink of being unlivable. “Something I don’t think people realize is that the UN actually revised that report, which was written in 2012, after the military operation in 2014, and said that it looked like the Strip would already be unlivable by 2018. And I assume it’s not that the UN meant that on January 1, 2018, or on January 1, 2020, people would start dying in the streets, but the idea is that the place is not habitable, that it can’t support wellbeing. A place that only has eight, on a good day maybe 12, hours of electricity per day, where access to water is made so, so difficult, where you can’t visit your parents living elsewhere, where unemployment is almost 70 percent among young people – I don’t know what kind of red line we are waiting for. I think the Strip is already unlivable; it’s a place where people are surviving, but it’s far from being a place where people can thrive. Anyone who thinks that stability is necessary in the Middle East, which I think is most people, should be working to change the situation in the Strip. […] We need to focus on civilians living in the Strip.”

To listen to the full podcast episode, see here.