Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Latest Signs In Gaza Of Serious Robust Economy -- Will Gazans Let Hamas Blow It?

With the current  war between Israel and Hamas, the campaign to portray Gaza as victims has gone into overdrive. Pro-Palestinian apologists would have you overlook the numerous economic successes Gaza has recently accumulated. These successes have been aided both by concrete steps taken by Israel as well as by direct US assistance.

The robust development in Gaza of markets in markets in construction, technology, and food has not gone unnoticed by the media --

Construction / Housing Market

Tech Market

Food Market

  • Shattering the Myth of the Closure
    Gaza Gateway (Gisha), September 23, 2012
    "The myth that Israel is still preventing food from entering the Gaza Strip has to be shattered; if not for the sake of accuracy, then because it diverts attention away from Gaza’s real problems. Gaza may not have a food shortage..."
  • Business With the Enemy: Secret Security Coordination Between Israel and Hamas (Hebrew)
    Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz, August 31, 2012
    Almost without realizing it, the movement of goods from Israel into Gaza flourishes. In Israel, they are defining the collaboration "amazing," In Gaza, they see the glass half empty and the threat to the tunnels

All this has been made possible in part by billions in aid from both the US and other foreign sources.
Israel also continues to help --

Israeli Measures to Strengthen the Palestinian Economy - September 2012 update
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 17, 2012
  • Approvals of internationally funded and monitored projects in the Gaza Strip – Since 2011, 235 projects have been approved. In September 2012 alone, 16 new projects were approved.

  • Expansion of trade between Gaza and the West Bank – Before the new school year began, three truckloads of furniture for schools in the West Bank were transferred from the Gaza Strip.

  • Support for the private sector in the Gaza Strip – The transfer of raw materials for private sector construction in the Gaza Strip, including roof tiles, building stones, dry wall, mosaics, adhesives, plaster, etc. was approved. These materials were removed from the list of banned dual-use products and are now allowed for import. Permits were also obtained for ten refrigeration trucks supporting the agricultural sector, allowing for increased export of agricultural products to the West Bank and abroad. Additionally, the weekly quota for commercial vehicles entering Gaza from Israel was increased from 80 to 100.

  • 100 million Shekels (roughly 25 million dollars) were transferred from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip in September, at the request of the Palestinian Authority.

But all of this progress is of course put in jeopardy as long as Hamas continues it terrorist attacks against Israel -- and this is not the first time that significant economic growth in the Palestinian territories has been undone by the Palestinian Arabs themselves.

Thus in 2002 Efraim Karsh wrote about the success of Palestinian Arabs before the Intifada:
The larger part, still untold in all its detail, is of the astounding social and economic progress made by the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli "oppression." At the inception of the occupation, conditions in the territories were quite dire. Life expectancy was low; malnutrition, infectious diseases, and child mortality were rife; and the level of education was very poor. Prior to the 1967 war, fewer than 60 percent of all male adults had been employed, with unemployment among refugees running as high as 83 percent. Within a brief period after the war, Israeli occupation had led to dramatic improvements in general well-being, placing the population of the territories ahead of most of their Arab neighbors.

...During the 1970's, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest-growing economy in the world-ahead of such "wonders" as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea, and substantially ahead of Israel itself. [emphasis added]
CAMERA also notes that:
the Palestinian territories had one of the ten fastest growing economies during the 1970's, just behind Saudi Arabia (which benefitted from the oil shock of 1973), and ahead of Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. (World Bank, ratio of real per capita GNP in 1980 to real per capita GNP in 1970)
This is also document in a publication made available in 1993 by The World Bank: Developing the Occupied Territories: An Investment in Peace
Palestinian territories are designated as OT (occupied territories)

As a side note, it bears mentioning that when mention is made of the hotels, restaurants and malls in Gaza that contradict the claim of pro-Palestinian apologists that Gaza is an open air prison, one of the responses is to point out the disparity between the those who can afford these things and the poor who cannot.

However, the World Bank points out that this disparity has always existed in Gaza and is independent of Israel and the Middle East conflict:
Qualitative impressions suggest that both the West Bank and Gaza have always had large differences between the rich and poor: traditionally landowners, merchants and a few industrialists have been amongst the rich, while land-poor rural households and households dependent on unskilled labor have accounted for the bulk of the relatively poor. (p.22)
Now, once again Gaza shows signs of being ready to turn the corner and create a greater level of prosperity for Gazans, with the help of Israel and the international community.

The one thing that is holding Gaza back is Hamas.

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