In the wake of the Gaza flotilla incident, anti-Israel activists around the world have worked to boost their message that the Gaza Strip is the most destitute place on earth, where famine and plague rule.
But remarks by Palestinians living in Gaza to international media outlets covering the aid flotilla story paint a very different picture.
"There is no starvation in Gaza. No one has died of hunger," Khalil Hamada, a senior official at Gaza's Ministry of Justice, told London's Daily Telegraph. Sticking to the Hamas party line, he then went on to criticize Israel's embargo as "inhumane" and "brutal."
Since much of the international media ignores Palestinians when they admit Israel isn't so bad, Israel itself tried to counter the misinformation regarding the Gaza embargo by publishing figures showing how much aid enters the territory.
According to figures released by Israel's Foreign Ministry, in the first quarter of 2010 (January-March), 94,500 tons of supplies passed through Israel's border crossings with Gaza. That aid included 40,000 tons of wheat (equal to 53 million loaves of bread), 2,760 tones of rice (or 69 million servings), 1,987 tons of clothes (the equivalent of 3.6 million pairs of jeans), and 553 tons of milk powder and baby food.
And it's not just essential goods Israel provides. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan late last year, Israel brought 11,000 head of cattle into Gaza, enough for 8.8 million meals of beef.
The problem is that most of these goods never reach average average Gazans. It is a long-time policy of the Palestinian and wider Arab leadership to maintain a victim or "refugee" status among average Palestinians.
Gaza resident Zaed Khadar acknowledged as much in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel:
"People who are not in with Hamas don't see any of the relief goods or the gifts of money. Hamas supporters get prefabricated housing, furnishings and paid work. We get nothing."
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