The boat that carried humanitarian supplies to Gaza was not a love boat, said Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in his nationally televised address yesterday. Whether you call it a love boat or a hate boat, there will be more boats to Gaza. A new boat from Ireland is getting ready to leave for Gaza within a week. The Rachel Corrie, named after an American activist killed in Gaza several years ago, is carrying 550 tons of cement, educational materials, toys and medical equipment. As happened in the past there may be activists on board armed with sling shots and broken bottles ready to attack Israeli soldiers attempting to enter the ship. What is Israel going to do? Is one of the most feared and modern, armed forces of Israel going to shoot the sling shot terrorists?
More and more love boats are going to come. They are all going to carry humanitarian aid with the support from many European countries including Turkey, a close ally to the US. Israel is not going to win this PR war but will make itself bloody in this process by trying to intercept these ships. What Israeli leadership must be discussing now is not how to stop these love boats but to find solution to end the blockade of Gaza that started four years ago.
According to CIA fact book, Gaza is about 360 square kilometers in area, roughly twice the size of Washington, D.C., with over 1.6 million people. After rich Monaco and Singapore, Gaza has the highest population density in the world. About 4500 people live per square kilometer in Gaza under inhumane conditions. Of this 1.6 million people, 45% of them are under 15 years old. An entire generation of young people are born and raised without education under intolerable conditions of blockade. Does Israel really want to create another 750,000 young Palestinians joining Hamas or find a way to co-exist? It is easy to dismiss Hamas as a terrorist organization but, reality is, they are Israel’s neighbors.
Palestinians are showing political maturity and love boats are a clear sign of that. It is better for Israel to deal with love boats to Gaza than dealing with rockets from Gaza. It is time for Netanyahu to refrain from empty rhetoric and resort to meaningful dialogs with Palestinian leadership with the help of the quartet (UN, US, EU and Russia).