The Israeli government’s near-total blockade of the Gaza Strip has been roundly criticized by international human rights groups as a harsh form of collective punishment. Some U.N. investigations have labeled it much worse–that Israel’s actions amount to crimes against humanity.
Back in medialand, the Washington Post‘s Howard Schneider has a story today (12/15/09) comparing life in Gaza with the West Bank. While the latter is still under Israeli occupation, its economy is (predictably enough) much stronger, and its standard of living relatively higher. This is a somewhat familiar theme in the press–noting that while Hamas’ rule in Gaza is a disaster,the West Bank’s more moderate political leadership is getting results. (Tom Friedman wrote two columns about this in August.)
The Post‘s examination offers only glancing mentions of the Israeli blockade. The piece employs unusually soft language in the fifth paragraph in describing “Israeli policies that restrict travel into and out of the Gaza Strip and limit its economic growth in a bid to undercut support for the area’s ruling Islamist Hamas movement.” Near the end of the article, we read that “Israel’s rules have choked off the economy in Gaza, increasing poverty and despair among its 1.5 million people.” Somewhat better, but buried.
If one is going to compare Gaza to the West Bank–or to anywhere else, for that matter–one would have to point out the punishing effects of this blockade. And if one were to do that, you might want to come up with a word other than “rules” to describe what some see as potential crimes.