Harriet Sherwood feels Hamas’ pain

“There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach.”

This wasn’t a sound bite from the IDF but, rather, a statement by the deputy head of the International Red Cross.

That isn’t to say the economic conditions in Gaza are great, just that – as photos of life inside Gaza by Elder of Ziyon, and others, are constantly demonstrating – there are no shortages of food or consumer goods, and the construction of modern shopping malls would suggest the existence of a middle class.

New Mall in Gaza City

Lobby of Grand Palace Hotel in Gaza

Has Israel imposed economic sanctions on the Hamas regime in Gaza? Yes, they have. But, regardless of the veracity of the unemployment figures in Gaza released by UNRWA (see my post on the original Reuters/Guardian piece, here), which Harriet Sherwood dutifully accepts at face value (Unemployment in Gaza and West Bank rises despite hopes of economic revival“, June 15, Guardian), Sherwood’s failure in the story is less in the details than in leaving her readers without the bigger picture – the context which journalists who take their professional responsibilities seriously continually strive to provide.

A proper contextualization of the injurious effects of Israeli economic sanctions on Gaza would, it seems, include two components completely lacking in Sherwood’s piece.

First, it would seem relevant to note that democratic nations, such as the U.S., routinely place such sanctions on belligerent countries – often nations thousands of miles away who, unlike Gaza’s close proximity to Israel, provide no direct military threat.  

U.S. sanctions are currently imposed against countries such as Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Iran, Ivory Coast, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe. While each sanction regime varies in both cause and severity, the media rarely questions the right of the U.S. to impose such sanctions – as its considered a non-military means of effecting behavior of the country to address violations of human rights against its own citizens (Zimbabwe) or due to military belligerence against other countries, in the form of outright aggression or due to the arms they provide arms to other belligerent countries (Syria and Iran).  

Such sanctions regimes typically set parameters or benchmarks to periodically evaluate whether the sanctioned country is still in engaged in the conduct which necessitated the economic or other restrictions.

In the case of Gaza, Hamas, recognized as a terrorist movement by the U.S. and the EU, and which openly seeks the Jewish state’s destruction, seized control of Gaza and stepped up its attacks on civilian targets in Israel proper, necessitating the imposition of economic sanctions.

As Sarah Weiss Maudi, the Israel Foreign Ministry’s expert on maritime and humanitarian law, noted:

” The imposition of economic sanctions on a terrorist or other regime is a very common practice that has been used many times in modern history. Some examples are the US implementation of economic sanctions on Syria or on Libya. Basically this is a tool to exert economic pressure on a problematic regime. This is not an act of collective punishment. Rather, again, this is a legitimate tool that is used under international law to exert pressure on a regime such as the Hamas regime, which is a terrorist regime”

On the international humanitarian requirements demanded of Israel in the context of such sanctions, Weiss Maudi explained:

“There are certain obligations under international humanitarian law that apply to armed conflict. Basically, Israel must ensure that vital humanitarian goods are supplied to the citizens of the Gaza Strip. Israel supplies vital humanitarian goods on a daily basis – these include baby formula, meat, dairy products etc. and in the last year and a half for example, over a million tons of goods have been transferred to the Gaza Strip.”

 The Israel Supreme Court constantly reviews the transfer of humanitarian goods to Gaza and makes sure that Israel is meeting its obligations under international law. There have been several Supreme Court cases where they have checked and made sure that Israel meets its obligations both under Israeli domestic law and under international law.”

In the case of Hamas, it should be perfectly clear. In order for sanctions to be lifted Hamas would be expected to meet the minimum requirements demanded of any border state: cease firing rockets and mortars at civilian population centers; accept Israel’s existence; excise sections of their founding charter which explicitly falls for Israel destruction, and abide by past agreements between Israel and the PA.

While Sherwood shouldn’t be expected to act as a spokesperson for the Israeli government, so typical of her journalistic malfeasance is the fact that not once, in an over 400 word post in her supposedly apolitical blog, does she deem it worth informing her readers’ of the reason for the sanctions – leaving the casual (Guardian reading) observer with the impression that the Jewish state is engaged in an arbitrary act of cruelty, and is indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians.

Sherwood, for some reason, doesn’t deem it necessary to note the more than 6,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian communities since the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood took control of Gaza in 2006, and she evidently doesn’t find it at all necessary to note Hamas’s genocidal anti-Semitic charter.

Sometimes when reading Sherwood, I wonder what I would say to her if I had a couple questions to ask, and, though I’ll likely never get such an opportunity, I’d likely ask the following:

Whatever your concerns for Palestinian suffering, do you truly think there’s a moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas and, what are your thoughts of the steady stream of vile anti-Semitism emanating from government officials, mosques, the state controlled media, and popular culture of  the terrorist controlled regime?   

Given the focus and ideological orientation of her blog posts and news stories since her stint covering Israel, my guess is that I wouldn’t be surprised by her answers but, as a citizen of the nation her prose so casually, and callously, defames, would still be horribly disappointed.

Written By
More from Adam Levick
Guardian op-ed refers to Ahed Tamimi as a “political prisoner”
The suggestion that Tamimi, who was arrested for assaulting an Israeli soldier...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *