According to Western diplomats familiar with the situation, Hamas has recently been submitting proposals to Israel for a long-term military ceasefire in exchange for an end to the crippling economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Details vary, with some saying the deal would be five years and others saying it was 15 years, but Hamas would agree to end all military operations “above and below ground” in Gaza in return for being allowed by Israel to import construction material, and build a civilian airport and seaport.
Since 2007, the Israeli economic blockade has kept all but a trivial amount of humanitarian aid from entering the strip, and two major Israeli invasions have occurred since then, leaving much of the strip in ruins and forbidding them a return of construction material.
Gaza briefly had an airport, near Rafah, which opened in 1998. Israeli warplanes destroyed the buildings in 2001, and bulldozed the runways in 2002. During the current blockade, ships are barred from entering or leaving the strip, and at times attacked by the Israeli Navy for getting too close.
While border crossings with Israel are vital for getting construction material into Gaza to rebuild in the near term, the strip’s economic future is clearly in much safer hands if it is allowed to have a civilian seaport and airport, and forge ties with the rest of the world.
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