What's it Really Like to Live in Gaza?
Stephen P Cohen, who has studied the Middle East for 40 years, and who has travelled there 150 times, says this in his book "Beyond America's Grasp" (page 172)
Now the struggle in the Middle East requires a clear indication from the US of the need to end Israeli domination of Palestinian life and to help the Palestinians develop a system of responsible, authoritative government that can truly be a partner in a peaceful future with Israel, and not in the radical Islamic movements of terrorism that so roil and threaten Israeli and American society.Despite the cease-fire that began yesterday and is still being observed by both parties to the most recent conflict, the Palestinians who live in the Gaza are still at a dramatic disadvantage.
Robert Wright explains in The Atlantic:
This is the situation Gaza has faced for years: a crippling economic blockade imposed by Israel. Under international pressure, Israel has relaxed the import restrictions, but even so such basic things as cement, gravel, and steel are prohibited from entering Gaza. The rationale is that these items are "dual use" and could be put to military ends. But this logic doesn't explain the most devastating part of the blockade--the severe restrictions on Gaza's exports.
Gazans can't export anything to anyone by sea or air, and there are extensive constraints on what they can export by land. They can't even sell things to their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank.According to the Israeli NGO Gisha, the number of truckloads of goods that leave Gaza each month is two percent of what it was before the blockade was imposed. (A black market trade via tunnels to Egypt has taken up some, but by no means all, of the slack.)
No wonder Gaza's unemployment rate has risen to 28 percent. No wonder 70 percent of Gazans receive humanitarian aid. No wonder there's a shortage of schools--it's hard to build them without construction materials.Mosa'ab Elshamy reports the utter frustration of the Palestinians who live in Gaza at the seemingly endless attacks by Israeli drones and F-16's:
There is extreme support for the resistance here. Even people who have always been critical of Hamas -- at times like this, there is always such support. When people hear a rocket fire into Israel, they shout "This is our rocket!" On Monday, Nov. 19, we heard children whistling -- a kind of cheering -- at a rocket that had left the area toward Israel. But even if people here feel they're winning despite the death toll, they still just want it to be over. They don't want this to drag on and fear it will get worse.The overwhelming majority of both Israelis and Gaza Palestinians just want peace:
Shadia Abu Khusa survived an Israeli airstrike. But the fierce hit blew off the roof and cracked the facade of his home just north of Gaza City. Now he and his family are searching for a place to rent while they repair the damage. They hope the peace will hold.
"God willing," Abu Khusa said, "it will last 100 years, 200 years, for the sake of our children."It's important, when we think of what life is like in the Gaza Strip, that we don't conjure up the mistaken notion that everyone living there belongs to Hamas. In fact, relatively few do. Gazans are normal people, just like you and me--people who want to give peace a chance.
In Gaza, a man who identified himself as Salah and his family want stability and peace. When the bombs began falling in Gaza, Salah took his family and fled their home for what he hoped were safer environs.
"We hope this is the beginning of a better time," Salah said. "Not a time of war."