Israel could have bombed its own power station to punish Gaza…

Israeli political commentator Nahum Barnea has just written an article, published on Ynet, heaping scorn on Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s recent authorization of a phased tightening of sanctions imposed against Gaza due to Hamas’ victory there.

Here are some juicy excerpts: “Something is happening to Ehud Barak in his second term in office. He is so smart in his mind, so ripe and ready and worthier than anyone else, that being smart is no longer good enough for him. Now he’s a smartass too. His latest decision, to cut off the power in Gaza in response to Qassam attacks, is an excellent example of the difference between being smart and being a smartass: There has been plenty of commentary about it, piles of analytical explanations, a series of winks from those in the know, but nobody dares to say openly what everyone is quietly whispering: It’s a dumb decision.

“I would not be using such a blatant term had this decision not revealed a rare combination of flaws. First, it does not punish Qassam launchers, but rather, the Gaza population, and pushes it into the arms of Hamas and terrorism. Secondly, it contradicts any moral or international law norm. Instead of disconnecting Israel from the occupation, at least in matters pertaining to Gaza, it worsens Israel’s image as a cruel occupier. Thirdly, it is incommensurate with the effort to renew dialogue with the Palestinian Authority and with moderate Arab regimes. The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, or Saudi Arabia, not to mention Mahmoud Abbas, would not be able to quietly sit in Annapolis when Barak is keeping Gaza in darkness.

“Barak did not invent a smart new move.

“The idea to cut off Gaza’s power was raised in the past. It tempted IDF major generals because it did not require an effort or risk on their part. We just cut off the power and that’s it. To their surprise, they discovered that the Israel Electric Company refuses to cooperate: It signed a contract with the Palestinian Authority and it cannot violate it.

“The IDF could have, in line with Joseph Heller’s satirical novel Catch-22, bombed the Israeli power station in Ashkelon [n.b. which supplies nearly 30% of Gaza’s current electricity — that would be one way to ensure a cut-off in Gaza, Barnea is saying], but that idea was rejected as well, for practical reasons. As there was no other choice, the Air Force bombed the transformers inside Gaza [n.b., in late June 2006, after Palestinian militants seized Israeli Corporal Shalit, who is still being held prisoner in Gaza, nearly a year and a half later]. The bombing angered the Americans, who invested money in the Gaza power station. Moreover, this move did not prevent the launching of even one Qassam rocket …
The Nahum Barnea commentary on the new Israeli sanctions being implemented against Gaza is here.

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