Leading article: A killing in Gaza that also carries a warning to Israel

Share
Related Topics

The kidnapping and killing of Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza is exactly what the Italian foreign ministry statement said it was: "An act of vile and senseless violence."

Arrigoni was no novice; he had lived in Gaza for several years, working for the International Solidarity Movement, a group committed to non-violent resistance against Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. There was no reason for Palestinians to treat him as anything other than the sincerest of friends.

This is not the only inexplicable element in his fate. His captors appear to have been members of the Salafist movement, a group that regards Hamas as unduly moderate. Their declared purpose was to secure the release of their leader, who was detained by the Hamas authorities last month. But Arrigoni died several hours before the expiry of the deadline they had imposed, suggesting either that something went wrong from the start or that they quickly abandoned hope of attaining their objective.

The killing prompted grief in Gaza, but also despair. Not only was Arrigoni well known and well liked there, but it escaped no one that this kidnapping was the first since that of the BBC journalist Alan Johnson in 2007. The intervening four years – crudely interrupted by Operation Cast Lead, Israel's 2008 reinvasion of the territory – had seen Hamas gradually more able to impose order. Missile attacks on Israel had declined and kidnappings of foreigners had ceased. It must be feared that the death of Arrigoni signals a change. With missile attacks on Israel from Gaza also increasing in recent weeks, the relative calm is at risk of breaking down. Lawlessness, never far from the surface in Gaza, could be on its way back, with implications for the territory, for the Palestinian cause, for Israel, and for the, currently moribund, prospects of peace in the Middle East.

Two factors can be identified as fostering current tensions – one that can be addressed; the other harder to tame. The first is the continuing Israeli blockade, which has helped to create and now exacerbates tensions in Gaza. Loosening the blockade is the only way that the pressure inside the densely populated territory can be relieved. Allowing in more goods, including especially medical supplies and building materials, would bring a rapid improvement of conditions inside Gaza, with hospitals better able to function, more productive work, and an acceleration of reconstruction. It is unfortunate that Israel's automatic response to renewed violence in Gaza is to tighten the blockade, without apparently understanding that this invariably serves only to reinforce the malign trends.

The other factor is the spread of unrest across the wider region. With Egypt still in ferment, protests in Syria showing no sign of abating and a new Jordanian government only just holding the line, Gaza inhabits a deeply troubled neighbourhood. What is more, it shares many of those countries' most problematical features: a very young population, an acute lack of employment, and serious obstacles to political engagement. With so much turmoil gathering around, the very last thing Israel needs is chaos in Gaza. But it needs to recognise that it holds the keys to making that less likely in its own hands. Self-interest, as well as the benefit to Gaza, dictates that it should relax the blockade.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss