ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

What is Gaza Really Like?

with 10 comments

Who really knows what goes on in Gaza?

Who is free to tell? How does Hamas manipulate sympathies in the West?

I do not know and I will bet that neither do most people.

But we know that Hamas controls Gaza with force. Hamas will subjugate, torture or murder any dissidents.

Hamas play the Western media’s game, portraying a particular image that they wish Westerners to see, but occasionally the façade falls

The BBC’s Edward Stourton reports from Gaza [07:39 on the 18th Jan 2010 BBC’s Today programme, available here via the BBC player, approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes into the programme].

It is well worth a listen, especially the bit where Stourton reports:

“I am actually in rather an elegant hotel by the sea in Gaza City, you maybe able to hear the waves lapping on the beach, and give or take the odd shortage it just about works…..hundreds of tunnels, and we are told some are big enough to allow entire cars to be smuggled through…..I am in the heart of Gaza City in the shopping area, in front of a shop absolutely stuffed with goods, inside there are clocks, and kettles, and crockery and pretty much anything you could want. Outside there on the pavement piles of fridges, washing machines and microwave ovens…”

It strikes me that Gaza is very much like any city or society, with its rich elements and the poor.

Capitalism with all of its inherent problems, is alive and well in Gaza, but it’s not just that.

Clearly, poverty in Gaza is exacerbated by Hamas’s actions, the military conflicts, Hamas’s excessive spending on weaponry and building up their own internal security forces, to keep them in power.

The money wasted on arms cannot be spent on alleviating the real poverty that exists in Gaza.

But then again, I suspect that Hamas do not really care much about the poor, except when they can be pulled out and shown to the Western media as objects of pity. Hamas has a vested interest in portraying the worst possible picture, but can’t be absolved of blame as they have run Gaza since 2006.

On top of that, the Western correspondents in the Middle East are partly to blame, they know full well the divide between rich and poor in Gaza. They know of the elegant hotels, the shops stuffed with goods and tunnels big enough to smuggle a car in, yet without exception we hear next to nothing about them.

I wonder why?

Update 1: See the comments, but in late 2008 Hamas kicked out an Israeli journalist. “But on Sunday, Hamas officials told Amira Hass they would no longer guarantee her security and told her to leave. “

As she says:

“AMIRA HASS: I don’t know. They just got tired of me, I guess, because they insisted from the start to follow me, to escort me twenty-four hours a day, which, of course, didn’t make my work very easy, but I took it OK. They said there is a—“We want to avoid any—the slightest chance that somebody might hurt you.” And then, all of a sudden on Sunday, they told me that the circumstances have changed, and there is more tension in the region, and there are all sorts of information—there is all sorts of information that my life might be in danger. And as a principle, I don’t take such, you know, at face value what any security apparatus tells me, whether it is the Israelis, whether Arafat or Hamas. But they left no option. I mean, they were very strict about it. I have some friends in Hamas. They tried very hard to put sense into some people, but it was in vain. “

Written by modernityblog

18/01/2010 at 16:15

10 Responses

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  1. But read Amnesty’s account and Israel has caused the sky to fall in:

    Gaza: Blockade ‘Suffocating’ daily life – new report

    Posted: 18 January 2010

    Call for lifting of blockade one year on from end of Operation ‘Cast Lead’

    One year on from the end of Israel’s military offensive in Gaza Amnesty has called on Israel to lift its “suffocating” blockade of Gaza, as the organisation released a new briefing on the plight of Palestinians living under the blockade.

    In Suffocating: The Gaza Strip under Israeli blockade, Amnesty says that Palestinians are finding it all but impossible to survive never mind rebuild after the devastation of Operation “Cast Lead” (27 December 2008 -18 January 2009).

    The organisation is calling on the Israeli authorities to allow fuel, food, building materials and other essential goods into Gaza without restrictions, as well as exports to be allowed out of the territory. In December Amnesty and 15 humanitarian and human rights groups warned that the Israeli authorities had allowed just 41 truckloads of construction materials into Gaza since the end of the offensive. Before the blockade was imposed in 2007, an average of 7,400 truckloads entered Gaza every month. With over 3,500 houses totally destroyed and another 50,000 damaged during the military offensive, Gazans have been unable to rebuild since the conflict.

    Meanwhile, one year after Operation “Cast Lead” ended some 20,000 Palestinians are still living in temporary accommodation. Mohammed and Halima Mslih and their four young children, for example, fled their home in the village of Juhor al-Dik, south of Gaza City during the fighting. Their home was later demolished by Israeli army bulldozers. Six months after the ceasefire the family was still living in a flimsy nylon tent that leaked rainwater and they have only recently begun building a simple home. The family fear that continuing Israeli military incursions could destroy what little they have salvaged.

    Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Malcolm Smart said:

    “The blockade is strangling virtually every aspect of life for Gaza’s population, more than half of whom are children. The increasing isolation and suffering of the people of Gaza cannot be allowed to continue.

    “The Israeli government must comply with a binding legal obligation, as the occupying power, to lift the blockade without further delay. The blockade constitutes collective punishment under international law and must be lifted immediately.”

    During Operation “Cast Lead” some 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands more injured; while 13 Israelis were killed, including three civilians in southern Israel, where dozens more were injured in indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups.

    In Gaza, Israeli attacks damaged or destroyed civilian buildings and infrastructure, including hospitals and schools, the water and electricity systems. An estimated 280 of Gaza’s 641 schools were damaged and 18 destroyed. Over half of Gaza’s population is under the age of 18 and the disruption to their education through the conflict and blockade is having a devastating impact, warned Amnesty.

    Hospitals have also been badly affected. Trucks of medical aid provided by the World Health Organisation have repeatedly been refused entry to Gaza without explanation by Israeli officials.

    Patients with serious medical conditions that cannot be treated in Gaza are also being prevented or delayed from leaving Gaza by the Israeli authorities. Since the closure of crossings leading into and out of Gaza, patients have been made to apply for permits, which are frequently denied. On 1 November, Samir al-Nadim, a father of three children, died after his exit from Gaza for a heart operation was delayed by 22 days.

    Unemployment in Gaza is spiralling as remaining businesses struggle to survive under the blockade. In December the UN reported that unemployment in Gaza stood at over 40%.
    ——————-
    Of course you have noticed that Amnesty has not called on Hamas to observe the requirements of the Roadmap Quartet in order to have the situation normalised. To Amnesty all blame lies at Israel’s door and the situation is as dire as can be.

    Margie in Tel Aviv

    18/01/2010 at 16:57

  2. “the Western correspondents in the Middle East are partly to blame, they know full well the divide between rich and poor in Gaza. They know of the elegant hotels, the shops stuffed with goods and tunnels big enough to smuggle a car in, yet without exception we hear next to nothing about them.”

    And they’d sell their grannies on ebay just to get a good story and would never let the facts get in the way of one.

    Mitnaged

    19/01/2010 at 01:00

  3. True enough, but it is the vanity of it all. Israel is a cushy number for Western journalists, nice digs, good weather, fine food, just spew out a few anti-Israel/anti-Jew stories a week and they can have a nice break.

    If they tried that in Russia they’d end up dead, or in China thrown out before they could say “press freedom”, but Israelis are more accepting of criticism.

    I doubt a critical journalist would last a week in Gaza, Hamas would see to that.

    modernityblog

    19/01/2010 at 03:00

  4. “I doubt a critical journalist would last a week in Gaza, Hamas would see to that.”
    Even the slavishly-worshipful Amira Hass was kicked out of Gaza. Hamas allows no possessor of opinions other than theirs to remain.

    Margie in Tel Aviv

    19/01/2010 at 08:31

  5. I did not know that, when did it happen?

    modernityblog

    19/01/2010 at 13:42

  6. http://www.democracynow.org/2008/12/2/israeli_reporter_amira_hass_forced_out
    Poor thing, kicked out of Gaza by Hamas and then arrested by Israeli police for being in Gaza without a permit.

    Margie in Tel Aviv

    19/01/2010 at 13:49

  7. modernityblog :
    True enough, but it is the vanity of it all. Israel is a cushy number for Western journalists, nice digs, good weather, fine food, just spew out a few anti-Israel/anti-Jew stories a week and they can have a nice break.
    If they tried that in Russia they’d end up dead, or in China thrown out before they could say “press freedom”, but Israelis are more accepting of criticism.
    I doubt a critical journalist would last a week in Gaza, Hamas would see to that.

    My thoughts exactly. The press is broadcast in such a world-wide fashion that if a jounalist living in Gaza were to question the Hamas occupation they would surely be made to “disappear”. So there is that factor of fear on the journalist side. Freedom of press seems to be an illusion. Everyone sees life through one filter or another.

    mikeyb79

    19/01/2010 at 17:54

  8. This account of life in Gaza, and how the economy works and how Hamas works, is well worth reading:
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n20/nicolas-pelham/diary

    BobFromBrockley

    20/01/2010 at 21:39

  9. Makes for strange reading Bob, eh?

    Still I have no doubt there *is* poverty in Gaza. Hamas are making sure they get their cut from any of the any tho.

    modernityblog

    21/01/2010 at 02:41

  10. […] What is Gaza Really Like? […]


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