The real poverty in Gaza

One year after Israel naval commandos stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza, a second flotilla is now setting off with the same aim.

Last year’s attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza ended in farce, each side with their own spin. Did Israel break international law? On the other hand, why were some of the participants up for a very violent fight and why was much of the so-called aid out of date? Strange.

As for this time round, let’s move past the rhetoric and ask if Gaza really needs an armada of aid. Was David Cameron correct when he said earlier this year that Gaza is a “prison camp”?

Israelis will argue that Gaza is not what the BBC or New York Times try to portray it as. While not exactly the Bahrain of the Near East, neither is Gaza totally a basket case. For example, the Hebrew newspaper “Yediot” had a 2-page feature with colour photos, detailing how Gaza is developing. The beaches look full and the shops are busy.

The Israeli army issued a video this week of a typical convey of luxury goods passing into the Gaza Strip from Israel. Similarly, a snappy 80 second utube clip clearly reviews how many parts of Gaza have long since abandoned poverty levels quoted by politicians. (You have to wonder who posted the original video.)

OK, so for more objective reporting, I turned to overseas correspondents. A Japanese writer had observed a few months ago that “Gaza and the West Bank are the only places in the world where I have seen refugees drive Mercedes.”

This week, a syndicated article from Ethan Bonner looked in depth at the emerging tunnel economy of Gaza. A powerful opening paragraph observes how: –

Two luxury hotels are opening in Gaza this month. Thousands of new cars are plying the roads. A second shopping mall – with escalators imported from Israel – will open next month. Hundreds of homes and two dozen schools are about to go up. A Hamas-run farm where Jewish settlements once stood is producing enough fruit that Israeli imports are tapering off.

Kevin Myers in a brave analysis in the Irish Independent asks: –

how can anyone possibly think that Gaza is the primary centre of injustice in the Middle East? According to Mathilde Redmatn, deputy director of the International Red Cross in Gaza, there is in fact no humanitarian crisis there at all. But by God, there is one in Syria, where possibly thousands have died in the past month.

After all, if the Palestinian news agency, Ma’an, is to be trusted, there is no shortage of cars in Gaza. The reason for the lowish number of new items is due to the local tax regulations imposed by Hamas.

An interesting blog summed up the forked approach to Gaza’s economy very succinctly:

While violence continues in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, there is one place in the Arab world where stability is growing as factories and farms multiply, construction booms and unemployment drops.  Ironically, that place is Gaza – the place singled out for international attention as the next flotilla prepares to sail, staffed by leftist loonies bearing solidarity, love and concern for people who are better off than many Americans living in Newark, Detroit, Washington D.C. and New York.  These pusillanimous rescuers are not floating off to Darfur, Congo or Sudan where photo-ops are hard to come by and marauding thugs are unfazed by such concerns as respect for interfering faux do-gooders.  They are not trudging to Afghanistan where sick people and the medical staff who tend them are marked for murder, nor will they insist on seeing Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for five years without a single visit by the Red Cross.  Their outpouring of compassion exists only for the purported victims of Israeli aggression – there is no credence given to the barbaric tactics of Hamas planting its military operations in the midst of their own civilian populations, or murdering its own domestic opposition, much less targeting Israeli children on school buses for demolition.

So is the latest flotilla designed to help the people of Gaza or satisfy the dubious ranting of those people claiming to be supporters of peace?

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2 Comments on “The real poverty in Gaza”

  1. Michael Horesh Says:

    For more details about the Gaza economy, see http://www.intellectualconservative.com/author/maurice-ostroff/


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