Is Israel right to cut off power, water, and fuel to Gaza until hostages return?
- On October 7, 2023, the Palestinian/Arab terrorist organization Hamas (aka the “Islamic Resistance Movement”) launched a surprise attack on Israel, resulting in the massacre of 1,300 Jewish citizens, many of them civilians and families murdered in their homes. A reported 150 people, including some Americans, were kidnapped to Gaza as Hamas’s hostages.
- On October 9, Energy Minister Israel Katz announced that “the water supply from Israel to Gaza be cut off immediately” until hostages were returned.
- Israel withdrew entirely from Gaza in 2005, leaving it to Palestinian rule while still providing free electricity and water. Between 2006-08, Hamas rose to power. Hamas routinely turns water pipes provided to Gaza into rocket bombs to fire on Israel.
- There are 22 official Arab countries, with Islam being the majority religion. The Arab world “reached a peak in 2022 with 464.68 million inhabitants,” with an estimated 2 million residing in Gaza. Israel’s population is just under 10 million, with Arabs making up 21%, or nearly 2 million.
- Israel is the world’s first and only Jewish state since it first occupied its homeland in 1200 BCE. Despite the Jewish Diaspora (displacement from the region) between 70-132 CE, thousands of Jews remained in the land up until the re-establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 by the United Nations following the WWII Holocaust.
Basic human necessities are now being intentionally withheld from innocent civilians because of the actions of a political group that many hold no allegiance to. Earlier this year, 70% of Gazans preferred alternative leadership to Hamas, and 50% also believed that Hamas needed to end its calls for Israel's destruction.
Reports claim that Gaza's only power plant has run out of fuel, leaving civilians without access to electricity or heating. However, it's the effect on hospitals that is the most shocking. Already, there have been reports of outdoor morgues forming by the city's largest hospital as medical devices are unable to be powered. The unfolding humanitarian disaster because of Israel's actions will only further intensify anger towards Israel. Beyond Palestine, there have been reports of a rise in antisemitism as people around the world protest against the violence in Gaza. The actions of Israel also set a dangerous precedent for other governments with the capacity to cut off resources to different groups for their own agenda.
According to Amnesty International, 'Israel has a clear obligation under international law to ensure the basic needs of Gaza's civilian population are met.' Their current siege of Gaza rejects this obligation and is thus an unjustifiable response to Hamas' hostage situation.
Hamas leaders recognize how Israelis 'love life' while Palestinians “love death for Allah.” In handling ongoing terrorist threats from Gaza, Israel has historically warned Palestinian civilians in the form of 'roof knocking' or sending warnings by phone or leaflet before any oncoming retaliatory attacks. They do this because Hamas routinely hides its headquarters and weapons in hospitals, residential buildings, mosques, and even schools—using their own people inside as human shields. Yet, Israel's desire to protect life and defend itself is often used against them. In this matter, using an established military tactic of cutting off supplies to retrieve innocent civilians Hamas has kidnapped is no different.
Israel left Gaza in 2005, yet has continued supplying the region with resources despite the Hamas-occupied territory constantly threatening them. Why hasn't Gaza become self-sufficient, and Hamas cared for its people? It's because Hamas's sole purpose is to destroy Israel. But, valuing life, Israel helps their enemies anyway. Strategically, cutting off supplies is the safest way to incentivize civilians to leave unsafe areas. Israel even warned millions of Gazans to evacuate, whereas Hamas told them to stay.
Cutting off supplies is nothing new, having been an established part of siege warfare for thousands of years; calling it 'unprecedented' is inaccurate. Almost all modern nations, including the US, engage in sanctions such as these. Facing a humanitarian crisis, Egypt may finally be pressured into allowing an escape route through its land.
Israel must take some kind of action regarding its hostages, especially since many of them are foreign nationals or those with dual citizenship. Attacks by Hamas on civilians are unacceptable, and Israel must respond effectively. Cutting fuel, water, and power is a safer alternative than direct violent force alone, showing Israel is serious about pursuing the safe return of hostages.