Monday, August 13, 2007

13-Aug-07: The extraordinary effect of market forces

Though three Qassam rockets were fired into Israel yesterday (Sunday), fortunately without causing injury or serious damage, there's a general sense here that the terrorists and their killing equipment are currently slightly less active than in the recent past.

YNet offers an unexpected reason - market forces. Under the heading "Fertilizer shortages hamper rocket fire", the news channel reports that the Pal-Arab thugs of Gaza, mostly card-carrying Hamas associates, are running short of two key ingredient: fertilizer and steel rods, as the price of both is currently soaring in Gaza.
Shortages in fertilizers used by Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip to produce makeshift rockets have led to a decrease in the number of rockets fired towards Israel. Ynet found that Palestinian terror groups prefer to save their rockets for rainy days. But rockets continued to be fired towards Israel on Sunday, with three rockets landing in the western Negev. The shortages have been blamed on Egypt's clampdown on smugglers operating along the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel's closure of border crossings used to transfer goods into the coastal territory.The price of a kilo of fertilizer rose from $20 to $50. Palestinian operatives confirmed the shortages to Ynet but said they still had large quantities of rockets stored in secret caches. "In addition to the smugglings, our people are producing a similar substitute. But the shortages also apply to materials we use to produce fertilizers and substitutes to it and therefore there is a crisis and the situation is difficult," one operative said. The shortage led Hamas gunmen to storm the Fatah-affiliated al-Azhar University where they confiscated dozens of kilos of fertilizers. Terror groups also face shortages in steel used to build the rockets. The price of a steel rod rose from NIS 120 to NIS 800. "God willing, our men will find other alternatives. The most important thing is that the resistance remains unharmed. Thank God we have brilliant brains in the Strip," another operative said.
Amazing. People's lives are literally being saved because of shortages in the availability of manure.

Meanwhile let's recall for a moment how the Palestinian Authority spoke so bombastically two years ago of turning the Gaza Strip into the Singapore of the Middle East.

Their oligarchs and kleptcrats, busy attending to their own personal Swiss bank accounts, conjured up visions of jobs for the hordes of unemployed and uneducated Pal-Arabs via the development of phenomenally productive agricultural lands created, and then left behind, by Israelis forced off their own land in the name of creating "confidence-building measures.

So since we're already speaking about manure, let's quickly review what became over these past two years of the plan to turn Gaza into Switzerland. Ali Waked writing in today's Yediot Aharanot gives us this uplifting snapshot.
  • Forty international experts were brought in two years ago to draft strategies for developing Gaza's economy and - above all - to create jobs for people with huge families to support. Two years of unfettered Palestinian Arab control, it's now clear, has produced ashes for them. Nothing else.
  • Rafah airport, the only one in the Gaza Strip, is in ruins. It's damaged structures are used by gunmen to launch attacks against Israeli targets. The only part still undamaged - the control tower - was finally leveled by last week by an Israeli air attack, reflecting Israel's final despair that the Pal-Arabs would rein in their own gunmen and rocket shooters who had been operating there without interference.
  • Gaza's fishing industry is in hopeless condition after Israel's sea embargo, responding to missile-bearing Palestinian boats, restricted the movement of Palestinian fishermen in the Mediterranean.
  • The constantly-under-Palestinian-fire border crossings are closed, costing the Palestinian economy millions of dollars each month in lost and wasted exports.
  • Seventy percent of the magnificently productive greenhouses left intact by Israel after the destruction of the Jewish towns of Gaza in 2005 are destroyed. Their plastic covers and steel arcs have been stolen and sold by looters.
  • Roads and other infrastructure networks are unrecognizable. Months of deadly internal warfare between Fatah and Hamas, as well as frequent Israeli airstrikes and land incursions responding to the endless barrages of rockets from Gaza into Israeli towns and homes, saw to that.
  • Factories? Sure. Built on land evacuated by Israel, they're now fully engaged... as training camps and military bases.
  • 80 percent of Gaza's 1.3 million inhabitants live in poverty or below the poverty line, according to the UN.
  • And one of the most beloved of Gazan entertainments - the spotaneous street rally, with thousands taking to the streets for hours on end, screaming, waving flags, burning tyres, firing rifles into the air - has now been made illegal by their Hamas masters.
So is there nothing to look forward to?

Not at all, says Waked. Observing that the Hamas Islamists are increasingly imposing their black and bleak version of Islam on their brethren, Gazan Pal-Arabs, he says, "have to brace for a Taliban-style disengagement that will cut them off from the rest of the world."

At least then they will likely be able to produce all the manure their economy needs, without fear of outside market forces. Steel rods might a little more problematic.

Singapore indeed.

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