Israel tightened its control over access to the Gaza Strip in response to continued rocket attacks, by closing crossings into the area. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides food to Palestinian refugees said it was not allowed to deliver truckloads of humanitarian spplles on Friday morning as it usually does. A spokesperson for the agency said, “Gaza is completely shut down. This will only add to an already dire situation.” Under the decision of Israel’s Defence Ministry, Gaza’s crossings were closed to all goods except for so-called “humanitarian cases” that must receive prior approval from Defence Minister Ehud Barak. The closure is definitely a signal to Hamas to take some action regarding rocket attacks. Yesterday, Prime Minister Olmert pledged to wage a “war” on militants, unfortunately, the only direct victims of the war are innocent civilians.
This decision will not only impact the people of Gaza, but will make it extremely difficult for President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to continue the process of negotiating peace with Israel. He will be under extreme pressure to do something that indicates his support for the people of Gaza. Perhaps, it is time for the Arab League, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority to bring together all groups with Hamas leaders in an effort to find a solution which both protects the people of Gaza and puts an end to rocket attacks. As part of such an agreement, Israel might pledge to cease attacking Hamas leaders as long as no rockets are fired.