I think it is or, at least, comes close.

Hamas’s terrorists’ murder of about 1,400 Israelis on October 7 was horrible. Nothing can justify it.

In subsequent discussions, I’ve seen an issue raised about Gaza. There are many comments on the web to the effect that Gaza is an open-air prison. I’ve also seen many comments that it isn’t.

What’s the truth?

First, the open-air issue is settled: Gaza is in the open air.

Second, and more controversial, is the prison part. Most of us think of a prison as something you can’t escape from. So, for example, if the government were to build a chain-link fence around a certain population of people, forbid them from going through it, and enforce that prohibition with the threat of force, the area surrounded by the fence would be a prison for those inside.

There are four sides to Gaza: (1) two sides that border Israel, (2) the side that borders Egypt, and (3) the side that borders the Mediterranean Sea.

The Israeli government prevents people from entering Israel. The Egyptian government prevents people from entering Egypt.

What’s left is the Mediterranean. I have heard over the years that the Israeli Navy patrols the sea to prevent people from leaving Gaza by sea. But when I go on the web to confirm that, I can’t. All I can find is that the Israeli government has tight restrictions on the area of the sea in which people from Gaza can fish and also harsh restrictions on flotillas taking goods into Gaza. But I can’t find any evidence that the government prevents them from leaving. And a friend who was in the Israeli Defense Force tells me that he has never heard that the Navy prevented people from leaving.

That would seem to suggest that Gaza is not an open-air prison.

But then I think of the novel and the movie King Rat. It has been 30 years since I’ve read the novel and, of course, the key word is “novel.” But one part that seems realistic is that in the POW camp in Singapore run by the Japanese military, the Japanese didn’t need any walls or fences to prevent prisoners from escaping because the surrounding physical landscape is so forbidding that the prisoners wouldn’t try to escape. No one would say that the lack of physical barriers to prevent escape means that the POW camp was not a prison. The Mediterranean comes close. If people in Gaza escaped in a boat (if they could find or build a boat) they would be in a pretty harsh physical situation, possibly not as forbidding as the Malaysian jungle, but forbidding, nevertheless.

So my conclusion is that Gaza is, or is close to being, an “open-air prison.”

Reminder:  The Hamas murder of 1,400 people in Israel was horrible. The post above is on a separate issue.