One of the main reasons Hamas cites for continuing to launch rockets into Israel is the Israeli blockade of Gaza by air, land, and sea, which in the Palestinians' view effectively makes Gaza an "open-air prison". Now as I understand it, Israel's justification for the blockade is that it's necessary to prevent the importation of weapons into Gaza, weapons that would presumably be used to attack Israel.
But my question is, why isn't the blockade limited to weapons then? My understanding is that the blockade covers all goods, and it even covers exports from Gaza. Why would Israel be concerned if people export things from Gaza? And I've also heard that it restricts the movement of people, to the point where residents of Gaza can't leave the area to go to college in a foreign country. What is the explanation for that?
The only potential explanation I've seen is from a recent interview with Danny Ayalon, former deputy foreign minister of Israel, who said that Israel would be willing to replace the blockade with a regime where all shipments into Gaza are inspected to see if they contain weapons, but that the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly refused such an inspection regime. Is it true that the Palestinian Authority has refused such a proposal? If so, what is the reason that they gave?
COOPER: When you say you've completely pulled out of Gaza, that's true in terms of your forces on the ground there, you did that years ago, but you do control the borders to Gaza, you do control the sea lanes to Gaza, fishing rights, I mean, you control who comes in and out of Gaza.
AYALON: Only as a response to the Hamas and before that to the Fattah as well. The PLO are smuggling and actually creating a launching pad of attacks on Israel from Gaza. If the Gazans or if the Palestinians over there would accept a effective, a reliable monitoring regime it wouldn't be a problem, but you see, they always accused us for not understanding. They imported a lot of cement for building, but we find out now that most of the cement was put in underground for all this tunnel war, and attack tunnel war from which they wanted to attack it, and indeed attack and kidnap one of our soldiers, Gilad Shalit.
So we see this is a regime over there, a terror regime which cannot be trusted. This is why we need to make sure everything goes in is inspected and we would like very much Gaza to flourish. This is why we left in the first place.
So is it true that Israel has offered to replace the blockade with some sort of monitoring regime or inspection regime, but the Palestinians have refused?