Arab journalist: Gaza's problem is not Israel

Friday, July 30, 2010 |  Israel Today Staff

A journalist for Egypt's Al-Ahram daily newspaper confirmed what a small handful of Western reporters have had the integrity to reveal of late: that Gaza really isn't under siege, and that any oppression felt by local Palestinians is caused by fellow Arabs, and not Israel.

In stark contrast to regular Western media reports of widespread deprivation and destitution in Gaza, Ashraf Abu al-Houl reported that "a sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza's coast."

Al-Houl also wrote that "the sight of the merchandise and luxuries filling Gaza shops amazed me." Not only that, but al-Houl quickly discovered that most goods can be bought in Gaza for much cheaper than in Egypt because in Gaza "supply is much greater than demand."

As a select few Western journalists have dared to report, that fact brought al-Houl to the realization that Israel's limited embargo against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip "is formal or political, not economic." In other words, Israel is not causing an economic or humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

However, there is widespread poverty in Gaza, but it is the product of corruption and a wide gap between the "haves" and "have-nots."

Al-Houl interviewed political activist Mustafa Ibrahim, who noted that around 20 percent of Gazans control nearly all the wealth in the territory, and nearly all of them are affiliated closely with the ruling Hamas movement. The wealthy Gazans invest heavily in the leisure industry and spend lavishly, while charging outrageous fees for basic luxuries like visiting local beaches.

Among the rest of the population, unemployment is approximately 45 percent, and those are the Gazans constantly featured by the Western media as the products of so-called "Israeli oppression."

The world's reaction to those media reports is to flood Gaza with even more humanitarian aid, which goes through the hands of the wealthy, and ultimately just makes them richer, while the poor get poorer.

Israeli officials have alluded to this situation in the past when they warned that while there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza today, the international community may actually create one by playing into the hands of the territory's corrupt elite class.

Translation of the article was provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

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