Know More About Palestine

Monday June 28, 2010 8:23 PM (EST+7)
OPINION: Israel offers misdirection on Gaza

Read more: Gaza, blockade, siege, humanitarian crisis, Palestinian economy, exports

RAMALLAH, June 28 (JMCC) - Although Israel's recent decision to ease its blockade on the Gaza Strip may allow in more material goods, it does nothing to help Gazans get back on their feet by building an economy.

Israel’s decision this week to allow more goods into the Gaza Strip may well ease the international isolation of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s government. But it won’t substantially help Gaza. While the three-year-old ban on many imports has posed a hardship for most Gazans, smugglers have been able to deliver these items through a network of tunnels connecting Gaza with Egypt. An Israeli television news segment—aired last week and widely discussed here—shows Palestinian shop owners on the phone with their Israeli suppliers, coordinating the delivery of goods by sea to Cyprus and onto Sinai, where they’re carted to Gaza through the tunnels. The real impact of the siege has been on Gaza’s export market, which has all but collapsed since 2007—and with it much of the economy. Yet in the uproar over aid flotillas and humanitarian crises, this issue has been largely overlooked. The Israeli policy shift does not address exports at all.

The numbers tell the story. When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip and dismantled its settlements there, an American-mediated agreement allowed Palestinians to export up to 450 truckloads of goods a day from Gaza. But crossing points were targeted by Palestinian bombers on more than one occasion, and so for security reasons Israel waived through some 70 trucks per day before the siege was imposed. Since June 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza and Israel imposed its blockade, the total number of trucks carrying goods out of Gaza has been less than 300, according to the Israeli rights group Gisha, which collects data on Gaza’s besieged economy. In other words, in three years Gazans have been allowed to send out an amount equivalent to just four days of exports under the de facto pre-siege number (which itself was far less than originally envisioned). As a result, according to estimates by the Palestinian Federation of Industries, more than 90 percent of Gaza’s factories have closed down or working at minimum capacity, a statistic that says far more about the grim situation in Gaza than the commonly cited data on banned goods...

Read the full article at Newsweek...






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