When Israel evacuated all Jewish citizens and removed all of its troops from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it was with the expectation that the Palestinian Authority (PA) would provide effective governance in the territory and that progress toward peace would follow. Moreover, Israel has always understood that Palestinian prosperity was important for creating incentives for ending the conflict. This is why, for example, Israel left behind greenhouses in Gaza that would have provided the Palestinians with a ready-made multi-million dollar export industry had they chosen not to destroy most of them and convert others to terrorist training bases.
Much of the suffering in Gaza today is caused by sanctions imposed by the PA. These include cutting the salaries and benefits of Gaza-based PA employees, resuming the collection of taxes, suspending social welfare assistance to thousands of families and forcing thousands of civil servants to retire. The PA also stopped paying Israel for electricity and fuel supplies resulting in rolling blackouts (Khaled Abu Toameh, “Hamas calls on PA government to lift sanctions or disband,” Times of Israel, February 13, 2018). Deputy Hamas leader in Gaza Khalil Al-Hayya said that sanctions imposed by the PA “represent a humanitarian and national crime” (“Hamas: Reconciliation starts with lifting PA sanctions on Gaza,” Middle East Monitor, July 3, 2018).
Abbas hopes the conditions will deteriorate to the point where the people will blame Hamas for their plight and revolt, allowing the PA to retake control of Gaza.
Despite continuing Qassam rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza following the disengagement, Israel has provided food, fuel, electricity, furniture, medical equipment and medicines, electronic appliances, building materials and other supplies to Gaza. Israel has also assisted the local economy by allowing goods produced inside Gaza, such as agricultural produce, textiles, and iron to be exported. Due to the ongoing protests that began with the “Great March of Return” and have escalated to rocket attacks and setting fires, Israel has temporarily closed the crossing to all goods but necessities.