All in the Same Boat



By: JONATHAN DAHOAH HALEVI  
Published: June 3rd 2010
in News » Israel

The MS Mavi Marmara
Pic: IDF Spokesperson

The public debate regarding the flotilla affair was focused also on the “siege” on the Gaza Strip. Zahava Galon, former Knesset Member (Meretz), blamed the Israeli government of “stupidity” and quoted the “reliable” data published by Amnesty International on the severe economic situation in Gaza. The very same organization, Amnesty International, has published early this week an official announcement harshly criticizing the Israeli policy in Gaza and arguing that “Only a fraction of [Palestinian] patients in need of treatment outside Gaza are allowed out.” Official data published by Hamas government portrays different reality. Last year 11,608 Palestinian patients left Gaza for receiving medical treatment and the entrance of only 150 was refused by Israel. 

 

Human rights organizations call the Gaza Strip a huge “prison” in which 1.5 million Palestinians are trapped. Their description has nothing to do with the real situation in Gaza. 62,726 people crossed in and out the Rafah border to Egypt. The Rafah crossing is open “irregularly” on Wednesdays and Thursdays and it is learned from Hamas official reports that it is also “irregularly” open on other days of the week. There is consistency between the number of those who registered for travel in Hamas Ministry of Interior and those who actually crossed the border to Egypt. The Gaza Strip’s export from Egypt is approaching one billion USD annually, according to an estimation published in the official Hamas newspaper. This export, depicted as “smuggling”, includes all necessities from cement, iron, motorcycles, and food products to hundreds of poor Egyptian girls who are sold to the wealthy Gazans for one thousand USD each paid to the middleman. Taxes on the export from Egypt enriched Hamas government treasury and the surplus goes to financial and real estate investments. In addition, the Gaza Strip receives hundreds of millions of USD from the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the European Union, international organizations and from Israel every year. Hamas leaders enjoy free movement in and out Gaza and the Hamas’ military operatives are sent regularly for training in Syria and Iran.

 

Peculiar alliance has developed between Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and human rights organizations who insist to contend that Israel is still the “occupying force” of the Gaza Strip. None outlines the conditions to end the “occupation”, but rather all of them demand pressuring Israel to open its borders to its enemy Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It seems that the principal consideration standing behind the hesitant Israeli policy towards Gaza is related to an Egyptian threat to firmly react on any attempt to transfer the responsibility for Gaza, it is quite possible that the threat includes an intention to deploy army forces in Sinai Peninsula, in contradiction to the Camp David peace treatment, as proactive measure to deal with the security threat of the Gaza Strip.


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