Just what has the Gaza war and siege really achieved?

Happy anniversary, Gaza:

Aid agencies have strongly criticised the international community for failing to help bring an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

The charities made the accusation in a report published just ahead of the anniversary of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The aid agencies condemn not just Israel, but the world community.

In the words of Oxfam’s director, Jeremy Hobbs, “world powers have failed and betrayed Gaza’s ordinary citizens”.

The charities call for more pressure to be exerted on Israel to end what they describe as its illegal collective punishment of Gazans.

American historian Norman Finkelstein, speaking recently in London, argues that resistance to Israeli aggression is justified:

Briefly assessing the history to the siege, Finkelstein noted that the ceasefire that was agreed between Israel and Hamas June 2008 was broken by Israel, not Hamas: whilst Hamas stopped its rocket attacks, Israel did not lift its illegal blockade on Gaza and launched a night raid on Gaza, whilst the eyes of the worlds were watching 4th November 2008 US elections.

Six Hamas resistance fighters were killed, provoking Hamas to respond, which it did by resuming rocket attacks. Finkelstein emphasised that this is not violence so much as “symbolic resistance”.

He quoted one Palestinian who referred to the rocket attacks as “modest home made rockets are a cry of protest to the world”.

Finkelstein commented that if we are going to condemn Hamas for these rocket attacks, we must suggest how else they should resist the pressure placed on them by persistent Israeli attacks, subjugation and persistent blockades that drain the small area of land.

If we cannot provide an alternative, we cannot criticise, he argued.

I’m not sure I quite agree with this. Resistance is certainly defensible and important in the face of overwhelming odds, but to back rockets that have killed Israeli civilians seems unwise.