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ISSUE 121 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/22/2008

Power outage jeopardizes Palestinian state sovereignty

By Monica Southworth
Staff Writer

Friday, February 22, 2008

In January, whether you were sunning yourself on the beaches of Martinique or jabbing your way through hordes of tourists to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, the Gaza Strip hiccupped and once again directed the world's attention to the Middle East.

The Gaza Strip fell into dark when the main power plant in the territory was shut down because Israeli officials prevented the delivery of fuel supplies. Spokesmen from the Israeli government claimed it was a response to the rocket attacks coming from Gaza, encouraging militants to cease their activity.

An article on a French news station, French 24, stated the reason for cutting the electricity to Gaza was both a response to the attacks and the beginning of an effort to reduce the Gaza Strip's dependence on Israel.

By using these "economic measures" Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer hoped to disconnect Israel from the Gaza strip and the Hamas party.

Israeli Insider, an online publication, states that militants in Gaza have acquired a new type of missile, the Qassam, which has an 18-mile firing range.

For a long time, there was discussion and no consensus on whether or not the power would be cut off to Israel, but a decision was eventually made.

If you've ever taken International Relations in the political science department, then you understand the significance of a sovereign nation and everything that sovereignity entails.

For the non-political among us, Wikipedia defines sovereignty as "the exclusive right to complete control over an area of governance, people, or oneself."

I realize that politics is a very sticky subject, and it's difficult to pick sides in any situation.

For Gaza, Israel's actions threaten the sovereignty of the nation by limiting supplies, cutting off power and punishing an entire nation for the actions of a limited few. However, from Israel's stance, they are preemptively dealing with a threat to the safety of their residents.

Preemptive strikes are also very touchy. From Tom Cruise in Minority Report to Bush's foreign policy, there never seems to be a winner.

While I generalize from two very different situations, Israel's actions are similar in that they both maintain sovereignty by jeopardizing that of the other state. Is Israel justified, or are they hypocrites?

In other Gaza news, on Jan. 23, militants broke the wall separating Gaza from the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. Workers used to be able to cross the border regularly whether it was in Gaza or the West Bank. However, crossing has been increasingly more difficult.

To even attain a work permit, an applicant must be over the age of thirty-five and married with children. This extreme critera ensures that workers don't stay illegally in Israel or Egypt.

When the fence was knocked down, crowds from both sides took the opportunity to benefit economically. Hordes from Gaza streamed into the Sinai Peninsula, spending money in the socialist state.

The unregulated flood over the border is a threat to Egypt. While Egypt benefits from the money being spent, there are dangers coming across the border with the crowds. An article in the Washington Institute for Near East Policy reports there have been "skirmishes" between the Palestinians and the Egyptian Bedouins.

Among the crowds were armed Hamas militants as well. When the border was compromised, Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarak, ordered the troops to not fire. However, when Hamas militants began to injure locals, the troops fired back.

At the risk of oversimplifying, the nasty triangle between Israel, Gaza and Egypt is continuing to worsen. Even though each is attempting to assert their own sovereignty, the process leads each to step on the toes of their neighbor.

Monica Southworth '10 is from Dutch Harbor, Alaska. She majors in political science, journalism and statistics.

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