Thursday, February 07, 2008

7-Feb-08: Getting to the truth behind a lethal icon: the Al-Dura scandal

One of this blog's authors is published in today's YNet. Frimet Roth calls for some long-overdue corrective action by our government.
Truth about lethal icon
Israeli government’s admission of guilt helps perpetuate al-Dura myth
Frimet Roth
Published by YNet: 7-Feb-08

A landmark ruling about the death of the boy Mohammed al-Dura is about to be handed down by a French court. If many are unaware of this, it is no accident. Recent developments regarding the accuracy of that story have received no coverage by any of the major networks. The growing suspicions about the official, tragic version - that the boy was shot by Israeli soldiers - have been reported almost exclusively by the Jewish media. The global news networks were eager consumers and purveyors of the iconic image of that child when it emerged in 2000. But they are studiously avoiding the matter now that it is looking more and more like a hoax. Expressing mea culpa is probably not something they relish.

Of course, their correspondents could have followed Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy's example (See his Oct '07 Haaretz column: "Note what a fuss is being made about the case of the killing of Mohammed al-Dura"). A noted apologist for the Palestinians, he has conceded that al-Dura may not have been killed by Israelis after all, yet wrote in November, 2007: The "question of who killed al-Dura is not important" and the quest for the truth about it is "an eccentric obsession."

But there are some Israelis to whom the truth does still matter. For them, the shameful role of one of the key players in the affair is probably not well known: that of their own government. Israel's role in perpetuating the al-Dura myth has been baffling.

The purported shooting was filmed by a Palestinian stringer, Talal abu-Rama, for France 2 on September 30, 2000. The television network's Israel-based correspondent Charles Enderlin edited the raw footage. Shortly afterwards, a 59 second clip was distributed to media outlets. Three days later, Israel officially admitted its guilt and expressed remorse over the child's death. After a hasty preliminary investigation and absent an autopsy or examination of any bullets - none were ever retrieved - the IDF stated: "There is no way to prove who shot him. But from the angles from which we fired, it is likely that he was hit from our gunfire... It is very reasonable that they were hit from our gunfire."

The area commander and other senior IDF officers present were convinced that, on the contrary, the IDF could not possibly have shot them. Their views were ignored.

To date, the only critical government voice belongs to Danny Seaman, head of Israel's Government Press Office. In October 2007, he said: "...It was not even possible to hit the (boy and his father) in the place they were hiding according to the report." Rejecting the validity of the official story, he continued: "The creation of the myth of Muhammad al-Dura has caused great damage to the State of Israel". He termed it "an explicit blood libel against the state" that "caused damage and dozens of dead."

But he is alone. This country's seven year-long silence in the face of strong evidence contradicting its official position has caused grievous harm to every Israeli. Richard Landes, an American historian and academic who has labored tirelessly to expose the hoax, summarized it thus: "Palestinian leaders declared Muhammad al-Dura a martyr and brainwashed a generation of children to want death by killing Israelis ... All the first suicide bombers... invoked al-Dura... No single image has created more violent hatred in this enraged 21st century."

In 2006, France 2 and Enderlin sued the director of a media watch-dog, Philippe Karsenty, for saying that the al-Dura story was a lie that had caused innocent deaths. The court determined that Karsenty was guilty without ever viewing the disputed film footage. Karsenty appealed and a year later the court ordered that France 2 deliver all its raw footage.

This was shown to the appellate court last November. To those present, it was evident that the 12 year old child, crouching with his father behind a protective steel barrel, was not shot by the Israelis. The bullet holes and puffs of smoke behind them indicate fire coming from a direction that makes Israeli culpability impossible.

It was also clear that preceding events were staged. To cite just a few instances:
  • Young men are seen running to and fro while throwing stones, presumably at Israeli soldiers. But none of these "embattled" youths is crouching to avoid bullets.
  • Interspersed among them while the shooting allegedly is underway are plainly-unconcerned passers-by.
  • One child is seen calmly riding through the melee on a bicycle.
  • Several people are dragged onto stretchers and into ambulances which materialize within seconds.
  • No one exhibits signs of actual injury or pain.
It was reported that the judge and spectators in the courtroom seemed stunned and laughed occasionally at the Palestinians' crude acting.

However, the most damning was the final frame: After a voice (either of the father or of the cameraman) yells in Arabic "The boy is dead", Mohammed uncovers his eyes and peers out from under a shielding hand. He is never shown dead, or even bleeding at any point in the film.

In 2003, Enderlin showed a visitor the full footage, explaining his blind faith in its authenticity with kindergarten logic: "I know (the stringer, Talal) well. Our families have met", adding: "He would not lie to me... It never would have even occurred to Talal to attempt this. Because in order to do so, he would have had to imagine that he could get such a farce by me, and since he would have known that would be impossible, he never would have even entertained the idea."

Last week, Charles Enderlin spoke to a small audience at Harvard's Center for European Studies. There to promote his new book, he revealed that Yasser Arafat had faked his headline-grabbing blood donation to the victims of the September 11th attacks. Enderlin said the event had been staged for the media to counteract the embarrassing images of Palestinians celebrating in the streets after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

His choice of subject – a Palestinian hoax - illustrates how brazen he and everyone involved in disseminating the al-Dura myth have remained. And with good reason. They enjoy the support of a French government dedicated to defending the reputation of its TV station. Toward that end, President Jacques Chirac submitted an unsolicited character reference on their behalf to the court hearing their libel suit.

Then there is the reassuring silence of the Israeli government.

In fact Enderlin relies heavily on Israel's failure to defend itself. A journalist in attendance at his Harvard address asked him: "If you know that the story of Arafat donating blood was fabricated, why do you reject any possibility that the shooting of Mohammed al-Dura was staged as well?" Enderlin's first response was: "We had an Israeli military reaction that admitted it was probably them."

The lower court that convicted Karsenty also referred in its reasoning to Israel's failure to retract its admission of guilt.

We are now several weeks before the endgame. Karsenty's appeal has afforded the Israeli government a second chance. This country's leaders have evidently been convinced that if the name al-Dura was never again mentioned, the story would eventually be forgotten. We have suffered enough for this catastrophic blunder.

The Israeli government must officially retract its admission of guilt and state unequivocally that it in no way contributed to Mohammed al-Dura's death, if indeed he was killed. A clear and public statement to this effect must be made well in advance of the February 27th court decision. The French judges will undoubtedly be listening raptly.

The question is: Are our leaders up to the challenge?
Frimet Roth, a freelance writer, lives in Jerusalem. She and her husband founded the Malki Foundation in their daughter's memory. Malki Roth was murdered in the Sbarro restaurant massacre in 2001. The foundation in her name provides concrete support for Israeli families of all faiths who care at home for a special-needs child.

7-Feb-08: Thursday toll

Nine Qassam rockets have been fired into Israel so far today (and it's only 11am) by the jihadists. Three rockets landed in Sderot causing several people to suffer shock and damaging a structure. Hamas claimed responsibility. Six additional rockets landed in open fields in the western Negev. No injuries or damage were reported in the attack. (Guidance systems are of no interest to the terrorists - anything that gets hit in the Jewish homeland is, by definition, a victory.) Ynet quotes a local resident: "They keep talking about miracles here, but you can't keep trusting miracles to happen."

7-Feb-08:"Expect wave of terror attacks in Israel"

Our small contribution to helping people recognize criminally-active, mass-murdering, terrorist barbarians when they see them.
Hamas envoy to Iran: Expect wave of terror attacks in Israel
Hamas' representative in Iran said Wednesday that Israel can expect a wave of suicide bombings inside its 1967 borders, not just the West Bank. In a statement on Hamas' Internet site signed by the organization's delegate to Iran, Dr. Abu-Osama Abed Al-Ma'ati, the suicide attack that occurred earlier this week in Dimona was described as the beginning of a new wave of similar actions.
"The Dimona attack is a message. That message is that Iz al-Din al-Qassam has renewed the suicide attacks," the message said... Showing consistency with the organization's line from Iran, Hamas' spokesmen in Gaza said the organization will continue to mount "resistance" and carry on with the suicide attacks.
Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri defended the Dimona attack, which killed a 73-year-old Israeli woman. "There is no choice, no option for our people, but to resist the occupation and defend themselves by all possible means," he said.
Defense officials told Haaretz they view the announcement as a significant change because it comes from the organization's representative to Tehran which has in recent weeks been pressuring Hamas to escalate hostilities against Israel.
In recent months, the Gaza Strip has seen the smuggling of Iranian Katyusha rockets. Since Hamas last month toppled the border fence separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt, Iranian-trained experts in terrorist activities have reentered the Strip, where Hamas has enjoyed sovereignty since it staged a bloody coup d'etat last June.
The renewal of suicide attacks in Israel as a matter of policy... fits in with the line the organization's military wing has been trying to promote. Military-wing officials believe that the organization should escalate all hostilities against Israel, including suicide attacks, rocket launches and strikes at settlements in the West Bank.
Hamas has also stepped up its involvement in firing rockets into Israel over the past couple of days. In parallel with ordering militants to launch several Katyusha rockets at Ashkelon on Tuesday, Hamas' political officials have lowered their public profile. Defense officials in Jerusalem said this was done to minimize the risk of Hamas officials being killed in strikes by the IAF.
The hate-driven axis of Iranian mullahs and the Hamas regime jihadists... Are you listening, Ed O'Loughlin? Ronnie Kasrils ("Hamas has in effect renounced violence")? Lord Mayor Ken Livingstone ("Likud and Hamas members are two sides of the same coin")? Britain's Home Office ("phrases such as Islamic terrorist and jihadi fundamentalism are too inflammatory and imply that all Muslims explicitly are responsible for extremism")?

And what of Palestinian-Arab public opinion? Something about this reiteration of the Hamas jihadist agenda plays well on Gaza's fetid streets. The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research yesterday reported on a survey it carried out between 23rd January and 3rd February, 2008. This entirely-Arab survey shows a 6-point rise in support for Hamas in the past few weeks, to 39% compared with 33% in a mid-December '07 poll. (Fatah's support is still larger, but feel to 46% from December's 52%.)

For people (like us) living here in the Middle East, the whole jihad-Iran-Hamas issue is very real, very practical. This isn't ideological or merely academic - and it's absolutely not a matter of politics. The problem for people living far from here is that they seem not to realize just how very relevant this matter of terrorism is to them personally, individually, immediately.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

6-Feb-08: Injured Israeli women and children: jihadist plan is working

Coming close to achieving the dream of the Gazan jihadists, one of their Qassam rockets fired from northern Gaza today crashed into the grounds of Kibbutz Beeri in the Eshkol region of Israel's western Negev, next to its kindergarten.

Three children were injured. Two sisters aged two and four who had been playing outside their home were hospitalized for treatment of their wounds along with their mother who is suffering from shock. The other injured child (in the picture at right) is a girl of 12.

Very shortly afterwards, another Qassam rocket struck a private residence in Israel's southern city of Sderot causing injuries and structural damage.

YNet quotes the Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin, whose daughter attends the kibbutz's kindergarten, saying: "The rocket landed at a time when all of the children usually play outside, especially on a beautiful day like today. This is also the time of day when some parents come to pick their children up. "

What the terrorists would call perfect timing.

Three Qassam rockets crashed into the much larger Israeli city of Ashkelon last night (Tuesday). Even though there are fortunately no reports of injuries or damage, the Hamas regime's leaders in Gaza claimed credit. About forty Qassam rockets have been fired into Israel in the past two days. Hamas proudly issued a press release today [you can't make this stuff up] to claim credit for at least 26 of them.

The pictures below are of the damage to Sderot homes from yesterday and today.

Damage to an Israeli home in Sderot yesterday

A Sderot woman injured in yesterday's jihadist rocket attack is evacuated to hospital.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

5-Feb-08: Terror and Palestinian identity

The next time someone asks you to buy the argument that Palestinian-Arab terror is simply part of their just struggle to assert their national identity, to achieve the restoration of their Palestinian-Arab state and national homeland etc etc etc, we'd like to suggest pointing them to this interview in the current issue of the British news weekly The Economist:
He certainly would not now “accept the reality” of Israel, as some of his senior colleagues have hinted. It may, instead, become “an eternal issue”, he says, looking ahead to a distant future when, “like your European Union”, the Arab nation will form one state across its historic lands, joining up with other Muslim nations such as Turkey. “We [Palestinians] were never an independent state in history,” he notes. “We were part of an Arab state and an Islamic state.”
The Palestinian-Arab speaker being interviewed is Mahmoud al-Zahhar, Hamas's "proclaimed foreign minister". A BBC profile 9from 2006) of the blood-drenched, Egyptian-born-and-bred Zahhar called him "the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Group, Hamas, in Gaza... Zahhar helped found the group in 1987 with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He became a member of the collective leadership of the militant group in 2004 after Sheikh Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantissi were assassinated by Israel. Mr Zahhar is one of Hamas' ideological leaders..."

When this mass-murdering terrorist owns up to the falseness of the distinctive-Palestinian-nation story, his voice needs to be heard. Let's see who, if anyone, in the mainstream media picks up the man's frank and significant admission. It's replete with implications.

Irrespective of what (if anything) it means for the politics of this region, owning up to the fact that decades of Palestinian terror have nothing to do with national self-determination is an important part of understanding Hamas and its apologists.

5-Feb-08: Living with the Gazans - Christian Edition

We'll let the New York Daily News speak for itself:
Gaza Baptists targeted by extremists
Violence by extremists has left Gaza's few Christians, such as this nun shown praying during the Christmas season in Gaza City, fearing for their safety

Monday, February 4th 2008, 4:00 AM
GAZA CITY - The Gaza Strip is home to 1.5 million Muslims - and about 3,000 increasingly frightened Christians. The small evangelical Baptist community has been a principal target of the extremists because of its missionary work, which has been halted. "Christians get killed here, let alone a Muslim who converted," said Ashraf, 36, who did not give his last name. "I stopped going to church even before the coup." And recently, even his church leader, pastor Hanna Massad, has fled to the West Bank. The murder of Baptist congregant Rami Eyad in October sent shock waves through Gaza's Christian community. Eyad's religious book shop had been bombed in April. Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab al-Ghusain condemned the killing but said that no one has been arrested. He blamed Al Qaeda elements and said Hamas was not involved. "We have increased security in Christian neighborhoods and near churches," Ghusain said. The Rev. Archimandrite Artemios leads St. Porphyrous Geek Orthodox Church, founded 1,600 years ago in Gaza's old city. He says he dares not try to persuade anyone to join his dwindling congregation. "If I baptize a man, I will have to visit his tomb," Artemios said. "We are against anything, even conversion, if it jeopardizes the peaceful relations between Muslims and Christians."
So in the face of this appalling racist hatred, where are the proud Christian denominations lately? Shouting from the rooftops? Well, not exactly. See
...all of them from the past few days.

We're almost tempted to criticize them. But then what do we understand of Christian replacement theology?

5-Feb-08: Living with the Gazans

Taking a brief time out from their on-again, off-again shooting war with the Egyptians, the Palestinian-Arab terror gangs refocused on Israel this morning.

Two Qassam rockets were fired by Pal-Arab terrorists based in north Gaza in the general direction of southern Israel (the general direction is about the best they're able to do or care to do - any Jewish target is good enough), striking Sderot's industrial zone this morning (Tuesday), according to YNet. They managed to cause damage to two factory buildings and inflicted shock and light injuries to a number of workers as a result of the explosions. One Gazan Pal-Arab Qassam struck the warehouse of a kitchen manufacturing factory in the western Negev town. The other landed in the parking lot of a nearby plant.

The Washington Post says Monday's Egypt-vs-Hamas violence suggested that Hamas has given up hopes of reaching a deal with Egypt under which the border would reopen with Hamas helping to run it. Both the PA's president Mahmoud Abbas and the Egyptian government reject Hamas involvement at the border. It's unlikely Egypt will strike a separate deal with Hamas. Egyptian troops on Sunday sealed the Gaza border with metal spikes and barbed wire ending the 12-day breach during which hundreds of thousands of Gazans flooded the Egyptian border area. The Egyptians halted all border traffic yesterday (Monday).

Another WaPo article yesterday runs somewhat counter to the "humanitarian disaster" headlines of the past weeks. Under the heading "Travel Brings Surprises to Gazans", the paper's correspondent Diaa Hadid writes: "The speed with which Gazans bought up Egyptian goods prompted comments that Gaza is well on its way to colonizing Egypt. Many Gazans who visited Egypt remarked on the discrepancy between their more glamorous image of urban Egypt - derived mostly from movies - and the run-down border region of unpaved streets and small houses they encountered. A trickle of Egyptians also made it into Gaza. Mohammed, an Egyptian truck driver who rented his truck to Palestinians to ferry goods into Gaza, pointed to cars crowding a nearby street and said: "I thought conditions here [meaning Gaza] would be harder than this. I thought people would be starving."

To which we say: Don't believe everything you read in the mainstream news.

UPDATE Tuesday 6:15pm - Ten Qassam rockets have crashed into southern Israel so far today in three separate barrages, and there are injuries to Israeli civilians in Sderot as well as power outages throughout the city.

UPDATE Tuesday 10:00pm - JPost says that earlier today (Tuesday) Pal-Arab terrorist snipers opened fire from the Gaza Strip on agricultural workers in the fields of Kibbutz Nir Oz. They hit a tractor and fortunately nothing else. Recall that Carlos Andres Chavez, a 19 year-old volunteer from Ecuador, was shot in the back and killed by a Hamas terrorist sniper a month ago on another of the kibbutzim in the area.

Monday, February 04, 2008

4-Feb-08: What's the enlightened way to think about a society like this one?

Under the headline "Gazans hear of attack, hand out sweets" Ali Waked, writing from Gaza says this today: "As word of the suicide bombing in Dimona spread Monday, Gaza residents were treated to celebratory wreaths of flowers as well as sweets that were handed to drivers and passers-by. Gaza motorists receiving the treats and sweets also honked their horns in triumph and celebration..."

A Palestinian boy distributes sweets and flowers to people in the southern Gaza Strip after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in southern Israel February 4, 2008. A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up and police shot dead his accomplice in an attack in a shopping centre in southern Israel on Monday that killed at least one Israeli, emergency services said. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA)

Palestinian-Arab Gazans celebrate today.

Palestinian-Arab Gazans celebrate today.

This last one is not from today. It shows Palestinian men in Lebanon in a celebratory dance in honor of the Hamas-engineered massacre at Jerusalem's Sbarro restaurant on 9th August 2001. Our 15 year old daughter Malki was murdered that day, along with fourteen other innocent people.

We'll never understand a culture that reacts this way to murder and the agony of others.

4-Feb-08: Relaxed criteria and craziness

In an announcement word-spun in reassuringly soft language, the prime minister's office has declared its explicit readiness "to relax the criteria" governing which Palestinian-Arab prisoners can be included in any potential exchange deals for the release of Israeli hostages, notably Gilad Shalit.

The Jerusalem Post says this intended relaxation comes "despite vociferous objections by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet)".

Relaxation? Olmert has accepted the recommendation of his point man in negotiations over the hostages, Ofer Dekel. Dekel has called for modifying the long-standing criteria for who can be included in an exchange. JPost quotes Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin opposing the changed criteria. Diskin, who is paid to have views on this subject, says releasing hard-core security prisoners will not only increase terrorism but harm Mahmoud Abbas's standing among Palestinians and boost support for Hamas. Olmert - demonstrating a renewed self-confidence in the wake of the Winograd committee report - has rejected that view.

For weeks, there has been media talk of a deal to exchange 450 Palestinian Arab terrorist prisoners for Gilad Shalit and possibly for other hostages. Israel's position for decades has been that it will not release prisoners with "blood on their hands". But it's precisely those hard-core imprisoned terrorists that the Palestinians most want to see released.

In 1985, Israel's then-prime minister Shimon Peres and then-defense minister Yitzhak Rabin agreed to swap 1,150 Palestinian Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails for three Israeli POW's held for three years in Lebanon. This was known as the Ahmed Jibril deal after the name of the jihadist whose terrorists were holding the Israeli prisoners. That Peres-Rabin deal included the Hamas founder, Ahmed Yassin. 800 of the 1,150 returned to the West Bank and Gaza and of course resumed their terrorist activities against Israel.

Several prisoner exchanges have followed with predictably tragic outcomes.

JPost quotes last week's Winograd Committee report on the Second Lebanon War strongly urging that Israel not do "crazy deals" (the judicial panel's actual expression) to secure the release of captured soldiers since this plainly boosts the motivation of the terrorist thugs to capture more.

Ah, but that was last week.

4-Feb-08: Reaping a Gazan harvest

The first reports are emerging this morning of a terrorist bombing attack on a southern Israel shopping center at 10:20am today (Monday), with Israeli deaths. But there's more trouble around that may get lost in the rush.

In a Sunday briefing to the Cabinet, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin-Bet, reported on the Gaza events behind the headlines:
  • Dozens of Palestinian-Arab terrorists who were trained in Iran crossed into Gaza from Egypt while the Egypt-Gaza border was wide open for 12 days after months of being refused entry.
  • "It's not clear how many, but large quantities of advanced weapons, including long range rockets, anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles were brought into Gaza through the breached border over the past few days" he reported.
  • Diskin's Sunday report describes the Sinai-Negev border as Israel's "soft underbelly" through which dozens of terrorists will try to penetrate into the country. He said the Shin Bet and the IDF had discovered around 30 routes that could be used to infiltrate the country.
Demonstrating how true Diskin's disturbing assessment is, this morning's reports from Dimona speak of two Pal-Arab jihadists who attacked the town's commercial center causing deaths and injuries to Israelis. One of the two went to his virgins in the massive explosion. The second, evidently his accomplice, was shot dead at close range by a fast-thinking security person before he managed to ignite the explosive pack on his body. As a result, the scene is greatly complicated by the fact that the shot jihadist's body has dangerous explosive material attached to it, according to a report we're hearing on Israel television news (as of 11:25am).

The south is not quiet or calm, and hasn't been for a long time. Four more Qassam rockets crashed into southern Israel, in the vicinity of Sderot, this morning. And a jihadist armed with a knife was seized by Israeli security forces this morning as he approached the Jewish holy site of the Machpela Tombs in Hebron.

Channel One news says there are already multiple conflicting claims of credit for the Dimona bombing by several jihadist groups including Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization. Sadly, the signs are that there are going to be plenty of opportunities for the thugs to grab credit for themselves. Murdering innocent Jews is one of Gaza's handful of flourishing exports.

UPDATE Tuesday 5-Feb-08: The woman murdered while going out shopping was 74-year-old Razdolskya Lyobov, a Dimona resident born in the former Soviet Union. Her husband remains in Beersheva hospital in critical condition. Another smashing victory for the ever-desperate Gazan jihadist "freedom fighters". Feh.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

2-Feb-08: Four more Gazan Qassams

Four Qassam rockets, despatched by the Palestinian-Arab jihadists of Gaza, crashed into open fields near the southern Israel city of Sderot this afternoon (Saturday). Fortunately no casualties or damage are reported.

UPDATE: Haaretz says two exploded in the Sderot cemetery, and two of the town's residents were treated for shock at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

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.