Opinion | Antony Blinken presses Israel to offer hope to shattered Gaza

Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week delivered a message to Israeli leaders that only U.S. diplomats have a high chance of hearing: plans to alleviate misery in Gaza and for its future. He landed in Israel with a message to establish the President Biden has rhetorically and materially supported Israel’s war against Hamas, expressing his understandable anger at the horrors of October 7th and their legitimate desire to eliminate terrorists based in Gaza, as well as his critical is in a position to influence Israeli leaders to override their legitimate aspirations for humanitarianism. And the strategic concerns that Israeli leaders should see are those that are in everyone’s interest, including them. These include minimizing civilian deaths; Improve the situation of displaced Palestinians. and to plan for a post-war governance that gives dignity to both Israelis and Palestinians by laying the foundations for a Palestinian state free from Hamas control.

The Biden administration’s challenge is extreme. But so is the need.

The Israel-Gaza war left ugly scars on Gaza. The war began with gruesome and ruthless terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians by Hamas, followed by an onslaught by the Israeli military. Vast areas of Gaza are now reduced to rubble, with civilians huddled in tent camps and in dire need of food and medicine.

Gaza, a seaside district 25 miles (40 km) long and about 4 to 7 miles wide, has not been bombed in most parts in recent decades. Hamas has deeply penetrated civilian life and structures such as schools and hospitals. Meanwhile, Israel has poured massive firepower into its campaign to eradicate Hamas. By mid-December, Israel had dropped 29,000 bombs, ammunition and shells on the Gaza Strip, destroying nearly 70 percent of the Gaza Strip’s 439,000 homes and buildings, the Wall Street Journal reported. Approximately half of the water, electricity, and equipment were destroyed or damaged. Communications and medical infrastructure are beyond repair. The paper said most of the Strip’s 36 hospitals have closed, with only eight still accepting patients. More than two thirds of the school has been affected. According to a World Bank study, more than half of all roads have been damaged or destroyed. According to the United Nations, approximately 342 schools were damaged, including 70 UN schools.

Although Israeli authorities claim to have dismantled military forces in northern Gaza, it is still unclear how effective the military offensive was in neutralizing Hamas. In any case, Mr. Biden is right to press Israeli leaders about the enormity of the human toll. More than 22,000 Palestinians have died, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Gaza Ministry of Health is part of the Hamas-controlled Gaza government, but international groups nevertheless argue that it has provided reasonable estimates in past conflicts. Approximately 85 percent of the Gaza Strip’s population has been displaced, concentrated in the southern part of the Strip. The United Nations reports that despite trucks bringing in supplies, hunger is now common.

Before the war, more than 500 trucks a day entered Gaza. There were about 200 people each day during the pause in fighting. On January 3, only 105 trucks loaded with food, medicine, and supplies entered the Strip, while on January 4, 187 trucks entered the strip. UN officials say supplies are lower than the humanitarian situation requires.

Israeli officials say fighting is winding down, but military operations could intensify in south-central Gaza, where Palestinians have fled. Hamas still holds more than 100 Israeli hostages, whose release and an end to Hamas’ rule in Gaza would be a precondition for a viable ceasefire. In the meantime, Blinken and Israeli leaders need to prioritize boarding more aid trucks and ensuring security in the Gaza Strip, as aid trucks passing through the strip have been attacked. There is. This is an important task. Under pressure from the United States, Israel has already moved to allow aid to cross the Gaza border, in addition to crossing the southern border with Egypt.

However, these are short-term measures. In the long term, Gaza needs to be rebuilt not only physically, but also politically and socially. Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called on Palestinians to leave the Strip, a disgusting policy of ethnic cleansing that the Israeli government does not accept and that Israeli President Isaac Herzog has publicly denied. be. Israel must now recognize that there is no rational, long-term settlement with the Palestinians that does not involve the creation of a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes a two-state solution. The Biden administration needs to make clear that October 7th has changed the situation, and its Israeli policy must change as well. Alternative approaches – direct Israeli occupation of Gaza, blockade, and various forms of limited Palestinian autonomy – have all failed.

As with past failures in peace negotiations, the obstacles are clear. But Mr. Biden, Israel, Arab states and all other stakeholders should try to give Gazans hope that something better will emerge from the ruins. Otherwise, the things that come out of despair will turn out to be really ugly.

Poster’s opinion | About the editorial board

Editorials represent the views of the Post as an institution, determined through discussion among editorial board members, and are independent of the newsroom and based in our opinion section.

Editorial board members: Opinion Editor-in-Chief David Shipley, Opinion Associate Editor Charles Lane, Opinion Associate Editor Stephen Stromberg, and writers Mary Duenwald and Christine Emba. Shadi Hamid, David E. Hoffman, James Homan, Heather Long, Miri Mitra, Eduardo Porter, Keith B. Richburg, Molly Roberts.

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