Southern Israel and Gaza

May 1st, 2012

J Street condemns the continuing rocket attacks on southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. J Street urges Egypt and the international community to take strong, responsible, and concerted action to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza.

Nearly three years following Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s military response to rocket fire into southern Israel, Gaza remains a huge concern.

Hamas is still in control, the humanitarian conditions in Gaza remain discouraging despite an easing of the blockade of the territory, and rockets still land in southern Israel. As we seek security, stability, and long-term peace, Gaza poses some of the toughest challenges.

J Street supports internationally mediated efforts to bring Hamas and its supporters into a political process based on non-violence and acceptance of a negotiated peace outcome. We don’t believe this requires direct US negotiations with Hamas, and we unequivocally reject Hamas’ use of violence and terror and its anti-Semitic rhetoric.

J Street urges Israel and the United States to continue to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including fully implementing its stated policy of easing the blockade to allow a greater variety and volume of civilian necessities, including unrestricted amounts of all foods, to enter the territory. J Street urges Israel to continually review the maintenance of restrictions on goods essential to civilian life — such as fertilizers, water disinfectors and construction materials — to ensure that they remain only to the extent necessary to meet its legitimate security concerns.

Before it was eased, the blockade helped create an underground economy based on smuggling tunnels through which weapons, as well as basic necessities, found their way into the Strip. Controlled by Hamas, the tunnel economy financially benefited Hamas and increased its strong hold on the Gaza Strip. We agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assessment that easing the blockade so that non-military goods can pass into Gaza through above-ground, regulated border crossings will ease the humanitarian crisis while enhancing Israel’s security. It will also assist the aid community in its efforts and facilitate the reemergence of a private sector and business community in Gaza.

J Street urges Israel to lift the export ban on goods from Gaza, to allow the territory’s people to rebuild the commercial enterprises that will reduce their dependence on foreign aid and Hamas’ patronage.

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