While I took issue with several of Ari Parritz’s points in his recent column about how Israel should respond to rocket attacks in Sderot (One Qassam too many, 11/21/2008), I will limit the focus of this letter to a comment he made in passing when he referred to Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza as a “painful but unfortunately necessary means of defense.”

Israel currently has a complete blockade on Gaza’s coast, airspace and borders. What that means is that nothing can enter or leave Gaza including food, medical supplies and fuel. Larry Derfner of The Jerusalem Post called this blockade “flat-out immoral” and referred to the struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians as “the most one-sided war on Earth.”

Parritz, is it necessary for Israel’s defense to systematically starve a population by refusing to allow food aid through checkpoints? Is it necessary for Israel’s defense to turn away trucks carrying medical supplies destined for Gaza? Does Israel’s security necessitate stopping a women in labor at the checkpoint and denying her medical attention? Is Israel made safer by not allowing diplomats into Gaza?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” I would seriously question the state’s morality and legitimacy. The fact that thousands of Israeli soldiers are now refusing to serve in Gaza and the West Bank for moral reasons testifies to the injustice that is currently being perpetrated against the Palestinians. As a human being, I strongly condemn the firing of rockets into Sderot. At the same time, I find it hard to differentiate between targeting civilians with rockets and targeting civilians by withholding food and medicine. Both seem equally barbaric to me.

Matthew Bussey

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