Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated this week that the blockade is necessary to prevent Iran from establishing a Gaza port through which it can arm Hamas, while opposition leader Tzipi Livni – who was foreign minister when the blockade was imposed in 2007 – says it's meant to pressure Hamas into renouncing violence.
But the intensified foreign calls against the blockade in the wake of Israel's flotilla raid has strengthened domestic critics who had already been arguing for a rethink of Israel's three-year-old policy. Under the policy, only humanitarian food and medical supplies – less than what the UN recommends – are allowed into Gaza.
Yossi Alpher, former adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, says that Monday's raid takeover is evidence of his claim that Israel needs to define a new strategy for dealing with Gaza's Hamas-controlled government. He says the blockade is backfiring, and the so-called quartet of peace process mediators – the US, Britain, Russia, and the United Nations – need to realize that.
"I would hope it would bring about the realization among Israel, Egypt, and the Quartet that this policy is counterproductive and a failure,'' says Mr. Alpher, co-editor of the Israeli-Palestinian commentary forum Bitterlemons.org. "It's time to look to see if a more productive strategy can be found.''