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Fuel For Peace

Summary:
Who is willing to die for diesel ? There is an extreme crisis in the Gaza strip and at the Rafah crossing from the Gaza strip to Egypt. *Finally* Israel is allowing food, bottled water, and medical supplies to enter the Gaza strip. However, they refuse to allow fuel in (claiming they are worried that Hamas will seize it). This is a crisis as Hospitals are running on backup generators and about to run out of fuel. Yesterday The UN Relief and Works Administration, said they had fuel for 3 or 4 days. The problem can not be solved by inspections at the crossing (determining that a truck is full of diesel and not say TNT) since it concerns where the fuel goes after entering the Gaza strip. It seems clear it will be necessary to have the fuel

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Who is willing to die for diesel ? There is an extreme crisis in the Gaza strip and at the Rafah crossing from the Gaza strip to Egypt. *Finally* Israel is allowing food, bottled water, and medical supplies to enter the Gaza strip. However, they refuse to allow fuel in (claiming they are worried that Hamas will seize it). This is a crisis as Hospitals are running on backup generators and about to run out of fuel. Yesterday The UN Relief and Works Administration, said they had fuel for 3 or 4 days.

The problem can not be solved by inspections at the crossing (determining that a truck is full of diesel and not say TNT) since it concerns where the fuel goes after entering the Gaza strip. It seems clear it will be necessary to have the fuel escorted by guards who are known not to be friendly with Hamas. I think this is a wonderful opportunity.

Israel can demand that armed guards who have orders to actually fight Hamas fighters if necessary are in the Gaza strip (no need to invade – come bearing diesel, gasoline, and methane). Given the crisis, Hama will have to accept this. They will lose their monopoly on legal violence in Gaza.

I think that Israel (among others) would benefit if this program became very large brining diesel for the Gaza power plant and for water pumps and aid truck refilling stations. The point (for Israel) is that all these places would have to be out of Hamas control with some other armed group guarding them.

I add Israel will want (demand) that someone broadcast what is happening (with a cell phone with the camera on will do) so they can detect fraternization with Hamas and cut off the supply (with you know bombs).

OK so who will watch the diesel ? A natural candidate would be Palistinian National Authority Police (you know the guys who lost a fight with Hamas in Gaza over a decade ago). Here they are coming bringing diesel under terms where their presence is required (and does not imply seizing power on behalf of Israel — yet). Another possibility would be Egyptian soldiers. General Al Sisi reliably hates Hamas (the blockade of Gaza is a joint Israeli-Egyptian operation. He is a ruthless dictator who overthrew a democracy, but you work with the allies you have not the allies you want. He is already very involved in Rafah crossing negotiations and just enjoyed hosting a huge international summit. So long as he is sure there is no risk that Egypt will accidentally annex Gaza (which he wants like he wants a hole in his head) I think he (and his subordinates) are an option.

I think that the real effort has to be to build an alternative to Hamas with money (lots of money (compared to the Gaza strip’s minimal GDP but pocket change for the EU or the Gulf Petrostates). I am not as confident that there is any way to overcome the Palestinian National Authority’s current reputation and now thinking of a new nongovernment organization (with staff selected for stated hostility to Hamas).

To go on a tangent, I note that US military policies based on giving dollars has worked while spending 100 times as much on US forces hasn’t. The US and UK conquered Afghanistan largely by suggesting that the Taliban were no longer the side was winning and also by giving money to local warlords. The US saved what seemed (to me) to be a desperate situation in Iraq by paying Iraqui Sunni rebels to swithc sides and become “the SOns of Iraq” in the Anbar awakening (now not just for Anbar). This was appeasement. This was paying tribute to adversaries so that they stop killing us. This worked.

But right now the more urgent crisis and opportunity is the need for diesel not dollars.

I support a tanker truck of Troy strategy to get armed opponents of Hamas into Gaza.

Robert Waldmann
Robert J. Waldmann is a Professor of Economics at Univeristy of Rome “Tor Vergata” and received his PhD in Economics from Harvard University. Robert runs his personal blog and is an active contributor to Angrybear.

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