Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ending the Gaza Blockade Might Help Israel as Much as Gaza

by Ivan Eland

Independent Institute
July 21, 2010

In the wake of Israel’s botched attack on a Turkish ship bringing relief to Gazans from Israel’s (and Egypt’s) economic blockade of Gaza, the Israelis have responded to intensely negative world opinion by relaxing the blockade. That move may help Israel as much as Gazans. Ending the counterproductive economic embargo and blockade would help both parties even more.

Israel is now letting more goods flow into Gaza, but the blockade was surprisingly porous to begin with. When economic sanctions (prohibitions on imports, exports, financial transactions, or movements of people) are imposed, the economic pain often dissipates over time because prices get bid up, thus creating big profits for smuggling. However, when such sanctions are enforced physically with a naval blockade and border closings (a land blockade), one would expect less attenuation of pain over time.

Yet even when the full Israeli and Egyptian blockade—imposed in 2007 to cause pain among the Gazan population to prompt them to turn against their government, run by the militant group Hamas—was enforced, many goods were still available in Gaza. They were somehow brought surreptitiously across borders or sent through underground smuggling tunnels across the Gazan-Egyptian frontier. Where there is a profit-induced will, there is a way.