Humanitarian Concessions Will Not Reduce Hamas Violence. Here is the Evidence

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman appears to be accepting the argument that humanitarian gestures towards Hamas will buy quiet. The evidence provided by UN agencies in an effort to advocate for humanitarian gestures ironically proves that there is in fact no correlation between such gestures and a reduction in Hamas violence.

Politicians, commentators, diplomats, citizens, international fora, the Knesset, EU institutions, and – above all – Israel’s major media sites endlessly debate Gaza’s alleged humanitarian plight and the virtue of humanitarian gestures as a means to mitigate it.

Even Israel’s hardline Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, appears to be buying into this argument. The Kerem Shalom border crossing is to be reopened after having been closed in reaction to the launching by Hamas of nearly 200 missiles over the space of two days. The fishing rights of Gaza fishermen will be widened to 12 kilometers in the hope that Hamas will stop the launches. Hamas will be free to continue sending off incendiary balloon bombs and to violently challenge Israeli troops at the security fence every Friday. Needless to say, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar told the Egyptians brokering the deal that Hamas cannot possibly desist from these forms of “resistance.”

The hope to buy off Hamas with humanitarian gestures is in vain.

There is overwhelming evidence that humanitarian gestures do not reduce Hamas-orchestrated violence. Ironically, the best evidence of the futility of the humanitarian argument is to be found in figures and graphs compiled by UN agencies and other pro-Palestinian fora that strenuously champion the humanitarian argument.

The exercise is simple. If humanitarian gestures had in fact led in the past 11 years to a reduction of violence, there should be a visible correlation between 1) a high number of trucks full of produce moving into Gaza, 2) a high number of trucks full of Gazan exports moving out, and 3) a high number of Gazans allowed to travel to Israel for business and health care to Israel and beyond with low levels of missile launchings. (Missile launchings are by far the most important index of Hamas violence. The lethality and destructive capacity of missiles dwarfs the effect of Hamas’s relatively infrequent attempts to penetrate Israel through tunnels and the small number of shootings at Israeli troops.)

Let us begin with a long-term analysis of the relationship between humanitarian gestures and violence. According to the humanitarian argument, one should see a reduction of, for example, trucks moving into Gaza in the month or two immediately preceding these bouts.

Take a good look at the following two graphs. The first shows the monthly rate of trucks into Gaza; the second shows missile launchings. There is no correlation between the two. In fact, the number of trucks dramatically increased in 2010 as Israel announced that it would considerably loosen restrictions on incoming produce (it lived up to its word). The number of trucks remained steady up to November 2012.

Table 1: Number of Trucks into Gaza Mid-2009 to end of July 2018

Source: Gisha,

Table 2: Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits

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