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Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Do Israelis have any idea how bad it is in Gaza?

Nearly two million Gazans are living in a state of poverty and shortages, with few options of leaving and even fewer options for work. Nearly two million people who live in a giant prison, and Israelis cannot even begin to fathom how terrible their situation is.

Palestinians walk through the Shujayea neighborhood of Gaza City, nearly three months since a cease fire ended Operation Protective Edge, November 16, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinians walk through the Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, nearly three months since a cease fire ended Operation Protective Edge, November 16, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

“I’m extremely concerned that if you leave Gaza in the state it’s currently in, you’ll have another eruption, and violence, and then we’re back in a further catastrophe, so we’ve got to stop that,” warned Quartet envoy Tony Blair during a visit to the Gaza Strip on Sunday. It was his first trip to the Gaza since the last war, and Blair spent his time meeting with ministers and surveying the progress – or lack thereof – toward rehabilitating the Strip.

The scope of destruction in Gaza remains enormous. According to the UN, over 96,000 homes were either damaged or destroyed by Israeli air strikes. The donor states that have pledged to transfer money have yet to do so, re-building is going nowhere, many are still seeking refuge in UNRWA schools and the winter storms have only increased the damage to the homes and neighborhoods that survived.

Read also: The casualties of the next Gaza war

The Israeli blockade, which prevents exports, economic development and importing building materials not previously approved by Israel, and which includes firing at fishermen, continues to choke the Strip. Furthermore, the Egyptian government has only tightened the blockade on its end over the past months. Egypt has destroyed all the tunnels into Sinai, keeps the Rafah crossing closed on a regular basis, and has destroyed large parts of Rafah in order to create buffer zone between the city and its Gaza counterpart. And all this after the Egyptian government banned Hamas’ military wing, calling it a “terrorist organization.”

Relatives walk amidst the rubble of the home of Zaki Wahdan in the city of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza City, November 10, 2014. Eight members of the Wahdan family, mostly women and children were killed. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Relatives walk amidst the rubble of the home of Zaki Wahdan in the city of Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza City, November 10, 2014. Eight members of the Wahdan family, mostly women and children were killed. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, which killed over 2,000 people, including hundreds of children and entire families, lead not only to destruction, but also to a breakdown in Palestinian reconciliation. Fatah and Hamas continue to find reasons not to make reconciliation a reality: Fatah refuses to pay the salaries of Hamas members (partially because Israel has frozen the tax revenues it owes the Palestinian Authority), Hamas is blaming the situation in Gaza on the unity government and attacks on members of Fatah are becoming routine.

According to an in-depth analysis by Ma’an News Agency’s Ramzy Baroud, the outcome out of these processes is leading to Hamas being pushed out the political circles of the southern Arab states (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar) and back into arms of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, from which Hamas broke off two years ago. Like Blair said, this can only mean a return to the circle of violence. And as Yonatan Mendel wrote recently, no single major Israeli candidate is offering an alternative to this path of destruction.

Nearly two million Gazans are living in a state of poverty and shortages, with dilapidated infrastructure, few options of leaving and even fewer options for work. Nearly two million people who live in a giant prison, and we cannot even begin to understand how terrible their situation is.

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Related:
The casualties of the next Gaza war
Report details IDF ‘double tap’ bombings that hit first responders in Gaza
Bombing homes in Gaza: ‘It was supposed to be their shelter’

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    COMMENTS

    1. Pedro X

      “no single major Israeli candidate is offering an alternative to this path of destruction.”

      Not true. Israeli politicians and diplomats have offered a different solution. That solution involves the disarmament of the terrorist factions in Gaza. This would lead to a swifter rehabilitation of Gaza, a building of a port and free movement. This would require the PA to administer Gaza on a peaceful basis and develop infrastructure for the development of a modern state instead of the Somalia which Arafat and Hamas have built since Israel relinquished administration of the strip and pulled out all of its citizens and troops from Gaza.

      The Palestinians are suffering the consequences of their actions in not accepting peace with Israel. They have chosen violence as their means to achieve their ends. They have funneled billions of dollars into their military machine while neglecting social issues and building infrastructure for a modern state. Hamas continues to rearm and prepare for the next conflict since according to its charter jihad is the only way to accomplish what they want. Hamas even steals cement meant for the rebuilding of Gazans’ homes in order to build more concrete supports for its tunnels. It taxes all goods coming into Gaza to fund its operation.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Truth be told, you guys love the Hamas. You created them as part of your divide and conquer strategy and you still use them as your major excuse for not ending the occupation. You manage Hamas–not too much, not too little is your motto. So Bibi can continue to peddle fear. Lieberman hates Abu Mazen much more than he hates Hamas.

        Reply to Comment
        • C.C. DeVille

          Ok everyone! We need to drink. Some lame brain. brought up the lie that Israel invented Hamas! Remember, if they involve the Mossad, double shots.

          Reply to Comment
        • Joel

          @ignorant Brian

          Way back when, Hamas was allowed to grow in Occupied Gaza. As soon as Israel saw that Hamas was a terrorist organization, Israel clamped down on Hamas.Eventually, Israel would support Fatah over Hamas.

          Brian. Your ‘Jew conspiracy theories’ won’t cut it here.

          Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Certainly not a Jewish conspiracy theory – all the repressive regimes in the Middle East have from time to time cultivated Islamic groups – which they saw as socially conservative and opposed to Communism, when the threat to the autocrats came from secular and often socialist nationalist movements (especially in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Palestine and even Iran). Bryan is quite right that at one stage the Israeli occupation forces gave free reign to Hamas which they saw as a counter-balance to the overwhelmingly secular Fatah movement. Later of course they did realize that Hamas was also a national movement struggling for independence, but again Brian is right that Hamas has been a boon to Israel because propagandists like Netanyahu who have been able to portray to ignorant westerners than Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida and ISIS are all cut from the same cloth, when the first two of these are clearly movements of national liberation with no interest at all in establishing Islamic rule outside their own borders.

            Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        @ PedroX – “Israeli politicians and diplomats have offered a different solution”

        And that solution is called GENOCIDE.

        And yet ANOTHER reason why I am Ashamed to be Jewish.

        Will the list EVER stop growing???

        Reply to Comment
        • what?

          genocide: “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.”
          do you realize that what happened this summer sucks, but it protected civilians in Israel being killed? would it seem more ‘fair’ if the iron dome didn’t exist and hundreds of rockets killed your Jewish brothers and sisters? can you acknowledge that half of those killed are people who want to kill Israelis simply because they are Israeli? are you able to empathize with the gazans who do not want hamas fighting with anyone, that they only want a home, a job and a life. and that they wish israel never left so they could continue to be a part of the economic atmosphere? I am sorry to point out that your argument is as simplistic as the right wing israeli rhetoric.

          Reply to Comment
          • Joshua

            Whoever thinks that the Iron Dome is actually giving significant protection to Israelis is just ignorant. The Iron Dome system was implemented in 2011, and the rockets have been fired since 2001. Only 33 people have ever been killed by those rockets.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            Yah, the rockets that were intercepted by Iron Dome right above my house were clearly full of roses and christmas presents and meant to harm no one.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Jello9

      About as much as we care about the terrible living conditions in Bangladesh and Sudan. Actually, no, even less, because at least no one is trying to shoot rockets at us from those countries.

      Reply to Comment
      • C.C. DeVille

        These Gazans are like the proverbial orphans who killed their parents.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      Wait a minute. Someone asked “Where do all the people go who have their homes demolished?” Epiphany! – apparently there are a lot of people who don’t grasp that the West Bank is littered with refugee camps! Refugee camps – get it?

      http://www.unrwa.org/palestine-refugees

      Reply to Comment
    4. Average American

      Honest question: Why doesn’t Israel annex or occupy Gaza (as they have West Bank and parts of Syria and looks like next is Jordan Valley). No more rockets, no more Hamas. Israel can build a port. Palestinians won’t be treated any differently than in West Bank. Two state or one state everything can go on as it has been.

      Reply to Comment
      • C.C. DeVille

        Good question! Why don’t you make a list of pros and cons and get back to us.

        Reply to Comment
      • Empiricon

        AA, please read some history. They used to occupy Gaza in every sense of the word, but they still occupy it under international law.
        “A transfer of authority to a local government re-establishing the full and free exercise of sovereignty will end the state of occupation…”, something that has never occurred in Gaza.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Bar

      Did my comment about how things could be very different not meet publishing standards here?

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        They stopped reading after the first sentence. Har har har.

        Reply to Comment
    6. C.C. DeVille

      I read somewhere that this is the anniversary of Rachel Corrie meeting the bulldozer.

      Anyone else in the mood for iHop?

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        You are the best exemplar, CCDV, of why many people find Zionism utterly distasteful. Whilst falsely claiming to be a national movement of worldwide Jewry, it discarded everything that was good about Jewish society in the Western Diaspora (e.g. a deep and abiding commitment to justice, coexistence, support for other minorities, a desire to improve the world) and everything that was good about the Eastern Diaspora (deep religiosity combined with a full integration in local society where it adopted the Arabic language, culture, cuisine, music, poetry etc) and left an arrogant, hateful, intolerant bigotry. Yes you go out and celebrate Rachel’s murder, but don’t spend your money all at once because there are many other anniversaries of Israeli slaughter available for you to celebrate.

        Reply to Comment
        • Jello

          So, just to be clear, you don’t want to go to IHOP?

          Reply to Comment
          • C.C. DeVille

            For the life of me, I cannot come up with a good idea for the “Rachel Corrie” special. They could, however, so a co-promote with the local Caterpiller dealer.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            An absolutely splendid idea: I assume you are referring to IHOP, the Turkish Human Rights Platform (http://www.ihop.org.tr/english/). I’m glad we all favour Human Rights, and Turkey still has a bit of an issue with Israel murdering their citizens in international waters.

            Reply to Comment
          • C.C. DeVille

            No Brian. International,House of Pancakes. Because Racel Corrie committed suicide by bulldozer.

            Reply to Comment
    7. alon

      Instead of building the tunnels, maybe the Palestinians could have used that money to help it’s citizens!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply to Comment
    8. Outsider

      Of course, we must express our anger about the whole f*cked up situation: in angry articles and especially in angry comments. There’s bombs, and fear, and death, and destruction, and if that’s not something to be angry about, what is?
      And if you’re angry, then of course you have to show that you are right at being angry, and we do so by blaming Them for messing life up so heart-breaking badly.

      As an outsider who has nothing to do with any of this, it’s easy to either join in on the screaming party, or to ask for change of any sort – we’re utterly powerless, which makes it easy to talk.

      Yet it makes me sad that nobody seems to be practical about this: if so many people need help that their kin and neighbor’s support is no longer enough, naturally a bigger community has to jump in to help. If Israel and Egypt get to decide whether this help is given (or if it reaches the people) because they control the borders, it is their responsibility to make sure that aid is given.

      Everyone who claims aid should not be given for whatever reason… I’m not even sure what to say to that. That’s weird. If someone random get’s badly hurt on the street, will you go and explain to this person and everyone else why you are keeping away the ambulance? I do not personally know anyone who would not run to see how they can help. But yeah, I’m an outsider, I don’t know these things I guess.

      Everyone who claims that aid should be given so far has been too busy being angry and making accusations, giving reasons why they are upset rather than actually trying to get any further. Where are the people that are actually trying to organize something?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Tomer

      The PLO non-people should simply leave Aza and move into 1 of the 22 arabic-speaking moslem states in the Middle East. There they can happily assimilate & disappear from history.

      Reply to Comment
      • Mesa

        It’s a prison. Not allowed to leave or even get from one area within Gaza to another via checkpoints. People die at checkpoints, not allowed to get to the hospital ( that has not been bombed) even in medical emergency. Also these checkpoints are not even into Israel but other Palestinian villages. If you are having a heart attack at night, on your own, as you or people trying to help you will be shot or beaten on sight for violating curfew. Its apartheid and ethnic cleansing at its worst

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Mesa, there are no Israeli checkpoints within Gaza. People are free to go from Rafah to Beit Hanoun. There are only a large bunch of violent Palestinian terrorists and criminals running at large in Gaza. This is what Gazans voted for and received.

          Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        Even after over a century of aliyah a minority of the world’s Jews live in Israel. Jewish populations in America, Canada and Australia are growing steadily. So the Jews of Israel can upsticks to other countries where they will be safer, wealthier, happier, and they can live with their consciences without having constantly to defend war-crimes. They can if they wish assimilate and disappear form history, or they can do what they have done for centuries in the Diaspora – retain their culture, their religion and their identity. Problem sorted!

        Reply to Comment
        • Jello

          Hahaha. No dear. We are the ones that live a good life here and our consciences are just fine. They are the ones that claim to be suffering. So, the problem is easily solved by moving them to a place where they can be truly happy like one of almost two dozen Arab Muslim countries where they would easily and quickly assimilate.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Can I see the data on your conscience sampling? I don’t trust your assessment methods and standards.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            The best sampling we have is called elections. Everyone who votes to the right if Meretz has entirely clear consciences, as do, I believe about half of the Meretz voters who vote for them due to their positions on social/economic issues. Alternatively, the people whose consciences bother them are best counted by counting the number of employees employed by organizations sponsored by the EU and left-wing inrernational NGOs.

            Reply to Comment
        • JefB

          @Bryan —

          You are a bit out of date. Israel’s percentage of the Jewish population has been steadily climbing and they are either at or almost at 1/2, depending on how you count So this ridiculous talking point where people talk as if a rapidly growing percentage were stagnant or shrinking is now either wrong or about to be wrong.

          The majority of Jews live in Israel today. By 2200 it is estimated to be 70% with another 15% of them having strong Israeli ties. Jews contrary to your BS propaganda talking point like living in their homeland.

          Reply to Comment
    10. susie

      I’m ashamed of being an American……..how sad.

      Reply to Comment
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