“Gaza After the War: A Sea of Despair”
The Economist, October 4, 2014
“With its land borders and airspace blocked off, the Mediterranean Sea lapping at Gaza’s beaches has long looked enticing. Yet Palestinians have not produced boat people since the war that created Israel in 1948; they clung on through wars, occupation, siege and incursions. Now they are flocking to get passports renewed, and the talk is of some 1,000 having sailed off. For all the speculation about a long-term ceasefire deal to reopen Gaza, and of billions of dollars being provided to rebuild the strip, the siege has tightened. For now Israel and Egypt, led by an anti-Islamist general, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, bar passage of even the limited supplies of building materials they allowed into Gaza before the war. Smuggling tunnels have been blocked. Highways funded by Qatar lie abandoned, half-finished. Thousands of caravans for the homeless lie piled high in Turkey, unable to get through the red tape. Four Paws, a British charity, negotiated to bring out three scrawny lions from a Gaza zoo, but not their keepers. … The damage caused by Israeli forces is compounded by the cynicism of Palestine’s two rival movements, which have exploited misery as a political card. Hamas, the Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza for seven years, prolonged the war needlessly, hoping international outrage would force Israel to offer better ceasefire terms. Now Hamas is broke and wants to give up some responsibilities in Gaza. But President Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) that runs the West Bank, has so far avoided filling the vacuum, hoping that exasperation will weaken Hamas and force it to cede even more control. Gaza’s damage has been inspected by more Western dignitaries than officials from Mr Abbas’s authority. Rival bureaucrats have even less contact than they did before Hamas and the PA agreed on a reconciliation in April, say officials.”
Quickie Analysis: Yet again, Gaza’s people are pawns in a larger game. Leaving, at any price, looks better and better.