Thursday, August 30, 2012

30-Aug-12: How close to hell is Gaza? Depends whom you want to believe

Image from "Hungry in Gaza, More and More"
Gaza will no longer be “liveable” by 2020 unless urgent action is taken to improve water supply, power, health, and schooling, the United Nations’ most comprehensive report on the Palestinian enclave said on Monday.

That opening sentence is a direct and vebatim quote from a Reuters syndicated report issued two days ago. You can see it in a large number of places on the Web; here's one from Gulf News, an Arab newspaper that gave it considerable prominence.

Many, many news channels are focused on its grim and pessimistic message - one that plays well with the energetically marketed image of Gaza as "the world's largest prison", a "big concentration camp", "stressed, desperate and in poverty". Characterizations like those go hand-in-glove with the shameless apologetics of Hamas and the terrorism-friendly ideologues with whom it travels.

The paragraphs below, by contrast, come from an article written by an unusually authoritative expert on the subject, an Arab. The chances that it will appear in the Gulf News or Reuters or other news channels of global significance are next to none. The writer is Khaled Abu Toameh. We have frequently reprinted here things he has published over the past six years.

How Many Millionaires Live in the "Impoverished" Gaza Strip? | Khaled Abu Toameh / August 30, 2012
The world often thinks of the Gaza Strip, home to 1.4 million Palestinians, as one of the poorest places on earth, where people live in misery and squalor. But according to an investigative report published in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, there are at least 600 millionaires living in the Gaza Strip. The newspaper report also refutes the claim that the Gaza Strip has been facing a humanitarian crisis because of an Israeli blockade. Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian Authority security commander of the Gaza Strip, further said last week that Hamas was the only party that was laying siege to the Gaza Strip; that it is Hamas, and not Israel or Egypt, that is strangling and punishing the people there. The Palestinian millionaires, according to the report, have made their wealth thanks to the hundreds of underground tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Informed Palestinian sources revealed that every day, in addition to weapons, thousands of tons of fuel, medicine, various types of merchandise, vehicles, electrical appliances, drugs, medicine and cigarettes are smuggled into the Gaza Strip through more than 400 tunnels. A former Sudanese government official who visited the Gaza Strip lately was quoted as saying that he found basic goods that were not available in Sudan. Almost all the tunnels are controlled by the Hamas government, which has established a special commission to oversee the smuggling business, which makes the Hamas government the biggest benefactor of the smuggling industry. Palestinians estimate that 25% of the Hamas government's budget comes from taxes imposed on the owners of the underground tunnels. For example, Hamas has imposed a 25% tax and a $2000 fee on every car that is smuggled into the Gaza Strip. Hamas also charges $15 dollars for each ton of cement, eight cents for a pack of cigarettes and 50 cents for each liter of fuel smuggled through the tunnels.
You can't arrive at a solution to the conflict through understanding what Abu Toameh reveals here. But his contributions and analyses certainly go some way towards understanding the never-ending torrents of hatred and aggression emanating from the ruling clique in Gaza.

Khaled Abu Toameh's article today also throws some light on those oceans of ink expended on attempting to beatify Rachel Corrie, the idealistic young American woman whose parents have devoted the last nine years seeking to pin her superfluous, tragic death at the age of 23 on Israel and Israelis. It would be unthinkable for them to have to connect their loss to a process that has enriched and continues to enrich a kleptocratic thugocracy in Gaza City and in other dark corners of the Hamas underworld.

So don't expect the Gazan millionaire class to get headline coverage anytime soon.

1 comment:

Batya Casper. The Human Face of Conflict. said...

Khaled Abu Toameh is an honorable Arab man. Honesty is not easy to come by in a region dominated by the Hamas which is the equivalent to the El Quaeda in US terms. There must be many like Abu Toameh in Gaza though perhaps not quite as brave.
The Palestinians are no more than pawns of their fundamentalist leaders whose aim is to keep the Arab Israeli conflict alive and well and showing no signs of letting up any time soon. California in the US is on the verge of bankruptcy, we are told, yet so many of its citizens - and even its businesses - are thriving. So with Gaza. The produce sold in its markets is Israeli. Gaza's basic needs are provided by Israel. Ultimately, the Palestinian people will have to decide when they've been fed enough negative ideology by their self-interested leaders; that they want the good life; and that they are willing to work for it. It is time for the Palestinian people to stand up for themselves, to stop blaming Israel for their troubles, and dedicate themselves to building a future of peace and prosperity alongside their Israeli neighbors. As with Israel's founding fathers, If they believe, it will be no dream. With temerity and hard work Israel has built a thriving state out of a tiny strip of desert land. The Palestinians can do the same. Let them come in peace, and see how blessed they will be.
Batya Casper.
The Human Face of Conflict.