In recent months, the suggestion to build an offshore port for the Gaza Strip has been circulating in think tanks and among Israeli officials. Ostensibly the port would allow the territory to import and export goods more freely while also enabling Israel to monitor shipments for weapons. Initially, the idea was to build an artificial island a mile or two off Gaza’s coast; now Cyprus has been proposed as a possible location. Martin Sherman argues against both plans:
[First], how would Israel monitor the use of dual-purpose materials like fertilizer (also used to make explosives), metals (used in rockets), and cement? Even today, despite strict supervision, about 90 percent of the cement delivered into Gaza is appropriated by Hamas for non-civilian purposes, such as the construction of terror tunnels. . . . And in the Cyprus version, how would Israel be able to prevent military equipment from being smuggled onto a vessel left unsupervised after it departs Cyprus and begins traveling to Gaza? . . .
[The primary] reason offered in support of the idea is that the proposed Cyprus port would ease the economic hardship in Gaza and therefore diminish the violence against Israel, and also that it would be contingent on the return of two Israelis and the remains of two IDF soldiers held by Hamas.
The first argument essentially validates the false Palestinian narrative that terrorism is the result of the “occupation” and therefore Israel is responsible for it. [But] if [Palestinians] want to improve their situation in Gaza, all they have to do is to stop trying to murder Jews and allow Israeli entrepreneurship and creativity to help Gaza prosper.
The second argument essentially fuels Palestinian extortion. If holding bodies and live captives gets the Palestinian a port, why wouldn’t they see it as a clear invitation to continue with this policy? [Furthermore], Gaza already has a port: Ashdod, an Israeli city closer to Gaza than it is to most other Israeli cities. The Ashdod port can easily meet all of Gaza’s needs. Besides, in the event of war, does anyone really want the Palestinians to have access to a port?