Jonathan Shainin in The National:
It is important to understand that Israel did not leave Gaza in 2005. Israeli settlers left Gaza, and Israeli soldiers moved from its center to its perimeter. The deprivation inflicted by the subsequent siege has been widely chronicled elsewhere, and while it may provide little justification for Hamas violence, one thing is absolutely clear: Israel has controlled the Gaza Strip from June 1967 until today. It decides who enters and who leaves, decides when food and medicine and money can cross the border and when they can’t. It decides where the walls go and who guards them, when to send in its tanks and planes, who can govern and who cannot govern, and above all, who lives and who dies.
The prominent Israeli commentator Ari Shavit – a former leftist and brilliant writer who became the foremost liberal hagiographer of Ariel Sharon – wrote on Tuesday that this is “a war for Israel’s sovereignty.” Close, but not quite. Israel’s sovereignty has never been at issue: it is the unquestioned sovereign power, the authority over those that are its citizens and those that are not. It is the perpetuation of Israeli sovereignty over the Palestinian territories – and not the occupation of territory, per se – that is precisely the issue. Palestinian residents of the occupied territories are citizens of no state; they are subjects of no government and no law, bearing no rights. The problem is that this is not a temporary situation: the abysmal failure of the Oslo process, which perceptive observers saw from its start, was that it promised territory without sovereignty, a meaningless offer that represented Israel’s most generous proposal.