Blogs > Liberty and Power > Gaza: Some Facts

Jan 23, 2008 10:54 pm

Gaza: Some Facts

As my co-blogger, Anthony Gregory, pointed out, a part of the wall dividing the Gaza Strip from Egypt has been blown up. What does this signify? Let us have a look at the facts.

The BBC reported, 23 Jan 2008:

“Tens of thousands of Palestinians have surged into Egypt from the Gaza Strip after masked militants destroyed parts of the border wall. Gazans rushed to buy food, fuel and other supplies that have become scarce because of an Israeli blockade - aimed at stopping rocket attacks from Gaza.”

The Gaza Strip is 360 sq km (139 sq miles) in area, with a population of around 1.4 million Palestinians. It is on the coast, surrounded by Israeli territory to the north & east, with a small southern border with Egypt. This has a wall. The Israeli govt ruled Gaza until 2005, when it handed the govt to the Palestinian Authority, but retained control of the borders, including the coast. After elections in Jan 2006, a war broke out between Hamas & Fatah, for control of the Palestinian govt. Fighting contd in Gaza until Hamas gained de facto control of Gaza in June 2007.

Hamas are implacable enemies of the Israeli govt. So Hamas began shooting rockets into Israel, against the hapless Israelis. The Israeli govt then closed the borders between Gaza & the world. The Israeli govt attacked the people of Gaza, not their govt.

Previously, the Palestinians of Gaza had worked in Israel & exported fruit, vegetables, etc there, while importing all sorts of consumer goods. But now these hapless people suffer enormous daily hardship, with a lack of food, medicines, medical treatment, power, employment. And their former Israeli employers of course struggle to carry on production. Thus the people of Gaza are ground down between the upper & nether millstones of Hamas, their de facto govt, & the Israeli govt. The Israeli victims of Hamas rockets are the other sufferers of this quarrel between two govts for power.

Note that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians have attacked each other. To the contrary, they have interacted peacefully, through trade. It is their respective rulers who are doing the fighting.

Hamas blew up the border wall with Egypt. The desperate people of Gaza then scrambled into Egypt just to buy daily supplies of food, kerosene, etc -- against the Israeli govt blockade, in the power dispute with the very Hamas govt which kindly blew up the border wall. So this is yet another story of the atrocities rained on helpless people -- NB, Israeli & Palestinian alike -- when govts struggle for power.

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Tim Sydney - 1/30/2008

Wikipedia has an interesting piece on Gaza and it's history.

This section may be of interest...

"The Israeli settlers of Gush Katif built greenhouses and experimented with new forms of agriculture. These greenhouses also provided employment for many hundred Gazan Palestinians. When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in the Summer of 2005, the greenhouses were purchased with money raised by former World Bank president James Wolfensohn, and given to the Palestinian people to jump-start their economy. However, the effort faltered due to limited water supply, inability to export produce due to Israeli border restrictions, and corruption in the Palestinian Authority.[26] Most of the greenhouses were subsequently looted or destroyed.."

The main criticism I'd make is that Wikipedia says that Gaza has since 2005 been under Palestinian Authority / Hamas authority. I'd argue that we are now seeing a new form of U.N. / "International Community" mandate system and in power in Gaza, Kosovo and "independent" East Timor. Claims that regimes that rely on foreign aid (either bilateral or multilateral) for the majority of their revenue are in any meaningful sense 'independent' is a sick joke. This new form of multilateral colonialism is even more incompetent than the older classic imperialism.

Anthony Gregory - 1/26/2008

Americans continue to elect leaders who pursue aggressive foreign polices, and have done so for more than 100 years. But certainly it is still mass murder for terrorists to kill American civilians. Right?

Craig J Bolton - 1/26/2008

You last sentence is, of course, a good one, and there are undoubtedly "structural" problems here. For instance, to the extent that Israel blockades the sea coast of Gaza, that is clearly a violation of the national sovereignity that the Palestianians in Gaza were purportedly granted. This is different from the Israelis sealing their own borders against those who seem unable to restrain themselves from blowing up their neighbors. The latter makes some sense and is justifiable, at least in a world of nation states. The former is not.

However, with due regard for those structural problems, the fundamental problem in Gaza is much like the fundamental problem was in Nazi Germany. Yes, the Germans suffered great hardships when their government attacked and attempted to conquer the rest of the world, and the world responded. Probably some of the things they suffered were "over the top," and would not have been engaged in by civilized people who had a real choice to make always measured responses. Not a good thing. Presumably most of us would greatly prefer selective responses and fine tuned justice. For that reason I personally favor assassination as a prominent part of "national defense."

However, and on the other hand, the Germans elected the Nazis and continued to support them to the end, just like the Palestinians in Gaza elected Hamas and continue to support it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but most Palestinians, whether members of Hamas or not, are armed, and presumably could fight Hamas in the streets if not at the ballot box if they chose to do so. So it is hard to make a case for a total lack of responsibility on their part, isn't it?