Friday, February 01, 2008

1-Feb-08: Building a homeland, Gaza-style

Two more Qassam rockets crashed into Sderot yesterday. And the very last semblance of Gazan aspirations for a better future evaporated this week in yet another act of vandalism as documented by Reuters:

Gaza's greenhouses become hot property in Egypt
Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:27pm EST
RAFAH, Egypt (Reuters) - As Palestinians trudged across the Rafah border to stock up, Yahya Salama had another mission -- to sell Israeli-style greenhouses in Egypt. Salama, 30, carted metal bars and poles, and translucent plastic sheeting to sell to Egyptians after Hamas militants blasted open the border last week to ease the Israeli-led blockade of Gaza. Palestinians with years of experience working in Israeli greenhouses say this equipment was unavailable in Egypt. "The Egyptian greenhouses aren't as strong and can collapse in the wind ... The material they use to keep the viruses off the plants also isn't as good," Salama told Reuters. Gazans are busy dismantling greenhouses to sell in Egypt because it had been nearly impossible to export produce recently, he said. The influx of tens of thousands of Palestinians has boosted the economies of impoverished towns in Egypt's Sinai peninsula in the past week. Egyptian farmers snapped up the greenhouses, eager for sturdier structures and Gazan expertise. "Of course they are benefiting from us," said Gazan Khaldoun Rabah, 37, pulling a load of greenhouse parts in a tractor down a muddy road on the Egyptian side of the divided border town of Rafah. He said he had 10 years of experience working with greenhouses in Israel or in Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, from which Israel pulled its troops and settlers in 2005 after 38 years of occupation. Gazans said a complete greenhouse could sell for 11,000 shekels ($3,000) in Egypt, the most populous Arab country. Salama said he could buy them for 8,000 to 10,000 shekels inside the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In Egyptian Rafah, 22-year-old Egyptian Mahmoud Dohair was scouring the border town for greenhouses to bring back to his uncle's 125-acre farm in the Suez Canal town of Ismailia. "We don't have greenhouses like this here ... These are cheaper and stronger than ours." He said he had bought 11 greenhouses in the past week to grow cucumbers and tomatoes. Other Palestinians continued to sell scrap metal, brought in from Gaza by trucks, even as border traffic thinned after Egypt choked off the supply of consumer goods to the border area to try to discourage Gazans from crossing. Egyptian forces were stopping Gaza vehicles from entering Egypt on Thursday. Salama said he had made eight trips into Egypt since the border with Gaza opened on January 23 to bring in greenhouses which he said Israel had not allowed through the Rafah crossing when it was open...
If there's a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, it's largely because of this sort of self-damaging behaviour and the uncritical reporting that accompanies it. These people have done an astonishingly effective job of stealing their children's future time and time and time again.

The Gazan hot-houses were a multi-million dollar success story so long as Israeli communities flourished in the area. When Israel shut down its presence and withdrew from Gaza in the summer of 2005, foreign donors - aiming to encourage local productivity - invested $14 million in acquiring the green houses to make them available for Palestinian Arab agriculturalists (see "U.S. Donors to Pay Departing Jews for Gaza Greenhouses").

The looting and stripping of these invaluable capital assets began within days of the Israelis leaving.

UNRWA, which has been energetic in its latest round of blaming Israel for the Gazan "humanitarian" "crisis" has been notably silent in the face of the Palestinian-Arab pillage of Gaza's few resources.

It's hardly worth asking why.

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