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The Plight of Gazans

When Israel pulled out of the Gaza strip, we were flooded with images of crying Israeli soldiers, upset that they had to kick their fellow Jews out of their homes. I don't know if the Palestinians they were leaving behind … Read More

By / November 13, 2007

When Israel pulled out of the Gaza strip, we were flooded with images of crying Israeli soldiers, upset that they had to kick their fellow Jews out of their homes. I don't know if the Palestinians they were leaving behind were crying too, but it looks like they should have been.

While the EU proclaims an Israeli-Palestinian deal "doable" in six months, Gaza is disintegrating.

Roughly 75 percent of the 1.5 million Gazans now live in poverty, up more than 10 points from the summer, according to Palestinian government officials in the West Bank.

To paraphrase, only a quarter of Palestinians in Gaza live above the poverty line. It's only getting worse, too:

Economic decline has been rapid since Hamas seized Gaza by force in June and Israel closed the territory's borders in an unprecedented lockdown. Most factories have closed, tens of thousands lost their jobs and exports and most imports are frozen.

Gazans say they are down to their last reserves.

Supermarket owner Mohammed Abu Sultan, 30, has only two boxes of candles left, so his customers in the Shati refugee camp will soon have to sit in the dark during frequent power outages. He's also low on cleaning products, diapers and sugar substitutes for diabetics.

"By the end of the month, we will have sold everything," he said.

And then there's the violence. Seven Fatah supporters were killed this week when Hamas opened fire on them. Hamas isn't finished with Fatah either, they mean to crush them but good:

Hamas on Tuesday moved swiftly against its Fatah rivals in Gaza following a massive rally that ended in bloodshed, arresting 400 people in an overnight crackdown and promising "additional steps" against its bitter enemy.

The threat deepened tensions between the Palestinian rivals ahead of a U.S.-sponsored peace conference later this month and appeared to set the stage for Hamas to take even tougher action against Fatah.

Despite being a conservative, I am not a monster. I want what is best for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. I no longer believe that an independent Palestinian state, run by this terrorist group or that one, is the best solution. I held out hope that the Palestinians would step up and rule themselves. They have profoundly failed. I don't know what the solution is at this point to the situation in Gaza. But I do know that pulling out the West Bank will only be an invitation to chaos. It's a feel-good solution for Europeans and Americans. Big bad Israel will let the Palestinians be free, finally. Seeing what has happened with Gaza, though, we should know that that is simply not what will happen. The West Bank will crumble under the violence, mismanagement and general corruption that seems to be the hallmark of Palestinian leadership. It's been over two years since Israel left Gaza. To paraphrase a very American phrase: are they better off than they were two years ago?

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