Daily Israel Report

Legal Forum to Steinitz: Declare Gaza 'Enemy Territory'

Legal Forum for the Land of Israel asks Knesset's Finance Committee to discuss Finance Minister's refusal to declare Gaza enemy territory.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/16/2012, 4:15 AM

Truck enters Gaza through the Erez Crossing
Truck enters Gaza through the Erez Crossing
Flash 90

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel has approached the chairman of the Knesset’s Finance Committee, MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud), asking that he summon Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to discuss his refusal to add Gaza to the list of enemy countries with which trade is forbidden.

According to the Forum, Steinitz has refused to add Gaza to the list, saying that such a move could have political, economic and security consequences and that Israel would be accused of violating the interim agreements it signed with the Palestinian Authority.

The Forum also said that Steinitz said that a decision to declare Gaza an enemy territory may adversely affect Israel's foreign relations.

The Legal Forum’s representative, attorney Avi Har Zahav, said that Steinitz’s claims are ironic, considering the escalation this week, in which terrorists fired more than 200 rockets at southern Israel.

“There is a flagrant violation of the agreements on the part of the Palestinians, so why does Israel not take a stand so long as the agreements are not respected by the other side?” Har Zahav said.

Har Zahav said that the Legal Forum demands that the Finance Committee discuss the issue and examine the transfer of funds to Gaza, which fund acts of terror against Israeli citizens.

“Such a step would signal to Hamas and to the world of the seriousness of Israel's intentions that Gaza is indeed hostile enemy territory and that action should be taken against it,” he said.

Despite the rocket barrage this week, Israel kept open the Erez Crossing for passengers and employees of international organizations operating in Gaza. Kerem Shalom was open for the delivery of 200 truckloads to Gaza residents.

Israel often helps the residents of the coastal enclave. This assistance includes medical care, and more than once Israeli doctors have been able to save the lives of Gazan children.

Israel allows various goods to enter Gaza and also allows for the exporting of agricultural products, such as strawberries and carnations, from Gaza to Europe, as part of an extensive project financed by the Dutch government.

Earlier this week it was Steinitz himself who, along with other ministers, called for Israeli action in Gaza.

“The situation in Gaza has become intolerable,” Steinitz said on Sunday. He called to target terror leaders, saying, “The more that attacks from Gaza threaten central Israel, the more Israel needs to threaten Hamas’ leadership of Gaza.”

“Israel cannot accept a Hamas government in Gaza in the long term,” Steinitz warned.