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Letter from Israel
David Frankfurter
Gaza: Open Air Prison? 
28th-Jul-2010 10:05 am
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, exploited his visit to Turkey to curry favour with his hosts, using Palestinian propaganda hype, saying that Israel’s blockade turned the Gaza strip into a “prison camp”. 

Every last Israeli left Gaza long before Hamas' bloody take-over. Closing the borders and even war has not stopped the incessant rockets and terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens and border checkpoints. More than 30 terrorist attacks come out of Gaza each month.  

Applying international law, Israel inspects the constant flow of goods through its borders into Gaza, in an attempt to exclude war material. Propagandists (and it seems European politicians) conveniently ignore the rules of war and international law, and claim these actions to be a form of occupation. They declare that Israel ruthlessly keeps Gazans in poverty.

Visiting international politicians and aid agency representatives are taken to view the deliberately unrepaired damage of the war Hamas provoked. Poverty stricken areas, including families living in plastic tents since their houses were destroyed in the war, are all on the carefully pre-arranged agenda. Israel is obligingly condemned. And more western tax payer money is pledged to the highest ever per capita aid program.

Although of little interest to the mainstream media, Gazan "poverty" is strongly questioned in the blogosphere. No accumulation of facts seems to be able to stop the constant flow of lies, cynically manipulated into very effective anti-Israel (and often anti-Semitic) propaganda.

Even the Palestinian media reports a very different picture. There is an abundance of both basic and luxury goods. It is not clear if it comes via the Egyptian border, underground tunnels, or the thousands of trucks that the Israelis officially allow to stream through their border crossings. But the fact is that there is plenty, and often at very attractive prices.

Ordinary Palestinian citizens say that there is enough to go around - but the Hamas apparatchiks steal it.  

And what of building materials to house those wretched families? Somehow, they don't seem to rank in the Hamas list of priorities. A brand new shopping mall replete with luxury goods, a luxury hotel, a  fancy restaurant, an olympic size pool and a fancy jail  to lock up prisoners accused of crimes such as "passing information to the Palestinian Authority" all make it into the list of latest completed projects, though.

Electricity shortages? Also an internal problem. Seems that Hamas collects electricity bills from the end user & then steals the money - expecting the Palestinian Authority and international donors to pay the Israeli suppliers. When the suppliers want their overdue money before providing more goods, who do you guess is blamed?

But those wretched Palestinians are suffering. Then again, life expectancy, infant mortality, and even cell phone penetration statistics show Gaza to be better off than other Muslim countries – and in many cases better than most places on earth!

Forgotten is the Economist report of 2004 that the West Bank and Gaza rank amongst the most obese populations in the world. 

Clicking on the links embedded above will bring you to lots of reports and pictures showing the truth.

But what about the charge that Israel has turned Gaza into a large open-air jail? We all value freedom of movement. We want to be able to leave our country of residence either permanently or temporarily for vacation, to receive better medical care, to advance our education or business. But of course, we all know that no-one can get in or out. Don't we?

Israel can be forgiven for being very cautious about allowing enemy aliens through its territory - after all Hamas has officially and openly declared its intent to wipe Israel off the map and sends regular rockets across the border to remind us all. Nevertheless, many people do cross the border - usually for humanitarian reasons, often to receive medical treatment in Israeli hospitals.

But what everyone seems to forget is that Israel is not Gaza's only border. Fellow Arab country Egypt, which has supported the Palestinian cause since it was first invented, is linked to Gaza with a little more than 11 km of border, and an official crossing at Rafah.

So why an open air prison? The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) regularly exposes the real problem in its monthly reports. Here it is from this month's bulletin:

Violations of the Right to Travel and Movement

Gaza residents are still suffering from the unavailability of passport books since November 2008 until the end of this current month. According to ICHR information obtained from officials from the Ministry of Interior of the Deposed Government, the MOI in the West Bank does not send passport books for citizens in Gaza Strip which entails depriving them from the right to travel and movement. In addition, it affects most of those in urgent need for traveling abroad for seeking medical care, university education, students and thousands of expatriates whose passports have expired and require renewal.

International travel, even via Egypt, requires a passport. The PA won't issue Gazans with passports. Gazans can't travel. That's Israel's fault. Clear?
28th-Jul-2010 07:45 am (UTC) - Open air or not?
I do not think you are being accurate.
Clearly, Mr Cameron has a point. You mention a hotel, restaurant and pool - well, much of these facilities will be located outside. As for the mall, it would seem that the Palestinians will have to do tehir shopping indoors,a s you point out.
Maybe a better question is: Why does Hamas not let the Palestinians move out of the camps - Around 20% of the population? Why are they still locked up, especially after Israel left the region to give them lebensraum?
28th-Jul-2010 11:16 am (UTC) - Offline comments
Thanks to those of my correspondents sending me mail. It would be great if you would post here instead - so that not only I see your comments but so do my other readers.

Here are some "corrections" I received:

* The life expectancy and infant mortality rates in Gaza are better than the comparisons in Turkey - the very place Cameron made his remarks. And Turkey's rates are good enough for Cameron to be pushing for Turkey to join the EU

* Turkey continues to illegally occupy parts of Cyprus - which is a member state of the EU. What a double standard!!

* Cameron did not see fit to mention Gilad Shalit who is held so many years incommunicado by Hamas - no access to Red Cross visits. No information to his family. Isn't this an illegal act that deserves his attention?
28th-Jul-2010 02:08 pm (UTC) - Gaza
David - we can publish all the facts and all the pictures of the malls and the groceries etc. but we cannot use this any longer. We have to ratch it up a notch. Yes - it IS an open air prison. And it was created by HAMAS. That is the line we should be following.We offered peace - they chose war. In order to protect Israel, we have to have borders, checks, and you cannot have air/sea ports unless you change the HAMAS charter.
The other way is to say "TAKE IT!! And make it Egypt's problem. We don't need Gaza!
28th-Jul-2010 03:07 pm (UTC) - Cameron on Gaza
Right, David. Outrageous words. So dhimmi UK hasn't really changed
-that is, its leaders, since I am convinced that all over Europe
there's a deep lack of sintony between citizens and their leaders.
This was all too evident in The Netherlands when in last legislative
elections the centre-right, together with Geert Wilders' PVV that
increased significantly its representatives at Parliament, won finally
the left -that had been in power since WWI !
Now Cameron has come out of the closet. An appeaser to Islam.
His stand on Israel, since the electoral campaign,
seemed dubious, sounded more like lip-service.
"Perdete ogni speranza, o voi che entrate !" (Dante)
Lose any hope on UK.
29th-Jul-2010 09:58 am (UTC)
The true does never prevail but the people who are against it die out. Max Planck has said these wise words and I agree with him 100%. The love which you feel for others has to be exercised in practice and this is what I always try when people come with hate to Israel and Judaism. I agree that we have to show the world what is happening and indeed we wish peace but this must come from both sites and Hamas want to destroy Israel and Jews. So with wisdom and power Israel will survive. Thanks for this excellent article.
5th-Aug-2010 09:45 am (UTC) - Translated to German
A random web search led me to this article.
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