PUA believes that Israel is interested in avoiding the inevitable and rapidly
approaching humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Israeli authorities understand that Gazans’ inability to travel is a major cause of suffering and hardship. Any solution, even if partial, to the blockade, will require dealing with this chronic problem. Many figures in Israel's political and military establishments have expressed openness to the idea of a long-term truce with Gaza that would include the establishment of a port under international management and supervision.
With regards to the proposed U.N. airport, Israel’s main concerns are the potential for smuggling weapons or fighters on board aircraft and the threat of hijacking. U.N. management of the airport will prohibit such actions. As a result, PUA is optimistic that the security apparatus in Israel will re-consider its position on the airport issue and will in turn influence the political decision, which is often based on the recommendations of the defense establishment. PUA expects that the Israeli Government will engage with and respond to practical ideas to alleviate the suffering of Gaza. Given that the U.N.’s humanitarian air operations around the world have proven successful, Israel should seriously consider this option as a reasonable and safe one. The proposed framework will deal with Israeli security needs so that the airport does not constitute a threat to its safety.
Currently, the Israeli Air Force and Navy control the skies and waters above and around the Gaza Strip. Allowances and accommodations will have to be made to establish a narrow air corridor that can take arriving and departing planes in and out of Gaza to fly over the Mediterranean.
Israeli security concerns will be addressed in the following ways:
1. Location: the proposed site is away from the Israeli borders and will be on the Southwestern coast of the Gaza Strip. This location will allow planes to fly in and out of Gaza without using Israeli airspace.
2. Security Perimeter: the airport compound will be surrounded by a security perimeter consisting of fences, walls and watch towers to secure the airport facilities against infiltration attempts.
3. Runway Placement: the runway will face the Mediterranean such that incoming and departing flights do not come close to Israeli airspace and instead land or take off immediately adjacent to the sea.
4. United Nations Control: the UN has extensive experience in managing humanitarian air operations and has a strong network in Gaza such that the airport will synchronize easily with other entities in the Strip.
5. Anti-Smuggling Measures: inspection and verification measures will be put in place to ensure that only appropriate cargo is transported. Additionally, all cargo arriving in Gaza will be placed in a secure facility where it will be inspected and checked before it is delivered.
6. Emergency Operations Procedures: protocols and procedures will be put in place for airport operations during times of crisis or violent clashes to continue functioning (even if partially) in a secure and controlled manner.
7. Emergency Loss of Operational Control Procedures: PUA calls for creating detailed plans for how the UN and Israel would act in the event that the UN loses control of some or all of the airport's operations due to technical issues or foul play. The goal should be minimizing loss of life and damage to the airport so that operations could be restored quickly while preventing airplanes from falling into the hands of potential bad actors.