Thursday, April 30, 2015

30-Apr-15: What Gaza's oppressed know that reporters don't, and why it matters

Anti-Hamas protest in Gaza yesterday [Image Source]
Little reported news from Gaza today via Agence France Presse
Hamas police beat, arrest protesters at Gaza rally | GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) - Police in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip beat and arrested protesters on Wednesday at a youth rally in the north of the besieged Palestinian territory, an AFP correspondent said. More than 400 demonstrators gathered in Shejaiya, a neighbourhood in eastern Gaza City that was razed during a July-August war between Hamas and Israel, urging reconstruction and calling for an end to intra-Palestinian division. Plainclothes police officers entered the crowd, beating a number of protesters without causing serious injury, the AFP correspondent said. They then arrested at least seven people, according to witnesses. The Hamas-run interior ministry said in a statement that the crowd had grown violent, forcing police to intervene "to protect the lives of those participating, after which calm prevailed"... With Hamas continuing to control Gaza, Israel has left in place its eight-year blockade, which has largely banned the import of building materials, fearing they could be used by militants to make weapons... Reconstruction of homes has barely begun...
There's a similar report in the New York Times today [here], with a similar degree of superficiality and spin.

We don't claim to have any direct sources in Gaza where a miserable population struggles to keep families together under the Islamist jackboot of the Hamas regime. But it does appear we know more than the AFP editors and their reporters. Or maybe we are just more honest. For instance:
  • Not a word in this AFP piece about the colossal investment of construction materials, in particular cement, that went into the construction of Gaza's city-beneath-the-city of attack tunnels, largely but not completely neutralized by Israeli military action this past summer, and by Egypt more recently. 
  • Hamas bleated for years to gullible foreign reporters about Israel preventing imports and exports. In reality they were diverting vast resources away from their people's needs and into the bottomless pit of their war-mongering capability. COGAT, an arm of Israel's Ministry of Defense, routinely reports on truck loads (by the hundreds daily) of goods entering and leaving Gaza, including construction materials. That information gets routinely ignored in news stories covering life in Hamas-controlled Gaza.
  • We learned, when visiting Kerem Shalom two and a half years ago ["2-Oct-12: Gaza and the perils of Arab solidarity"], that on a daily basis, many truck-loads - sometimes hundreds of them at a time - get approved by Israel after being requested by the Gazan side and then simply fail to show up. The entire import/export enterprise affecting Gaza is routinely manipulated by its Hamas masters.
  • Hamas has a proven history, starting with the intra-Palestinian blood-letting that brought it to power in 2007, of dumping its own people at the very bottom of its strategic priorities. For all practical purposes, that means 1.8 million men, women and especially children held hostage to a grand Islamist/Moslem Brotherhood plan. That plan seeks to overcome Israel's material advantages by (appallingly) creating a pool of strategic misery - self-inflicted and exceptionally cruel - with the goal of achieving victory in actual war by sacrificing its own people, with a cold-blooded focus on children. That history is well-known, of course, to the Gazans. It's why they knowingly took to the streets to protest this week. A pity the reporters failed to mention it. Is this self-censorship or ignorance? It hardly matters. The result is the same.
  • While new housing gets shoved aside by the Gazan leadership despite the desperate need, tunnel construction - involving steel, cement, electricity infrastructure - is proceeding at full speed [see some of the evidence here] with virtually unlimited access to the very resources that Gaza's ordinary people don't get to see. 
Egyptian soldiers seize control of a Gazan tunnel in this
November 2014 news photo [Image Source]
In case there's any doubt about that last point, here is what has been happening in Gaza's underground empire just this week, from Palestinian Arab news sources Albawaba and Maan:
  • "A Palestinian worker died on Monday when a tunnel collapsed in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, a health official said. A Ministry of Health spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that Muhammad Khalid al-Najjar, 27, was killed in the incident. His body has been taken to the Abu Youssef al-Najjar hospital..."
  • "Last week, Ahmad Majed Salim al-Saqqa, 19, from Khan Younis died after he was electrocuted in a tunnel beneath Rafah,.. "
  • "[A]nother Palestinian from Khan Younis, Ibrahim Fathi Isleih, 21, died a week before in similar circumstances."
But Gaza is impoverished, right? And lacking basic construction items, correct? How can Hamas possibly get its hands on what's needed and fund the huge investment required by those tunnels and the supporting infrastructure? The Telegraph UK knows:
Iran 'is intensifying efforts to support Hamas in Gaza' | Iran has transferred tens of millions of dollars to Hamas's military wing in Gaza to help it rebuild after last summer's conflict with Israel, intelligence sources state | April 4, 2015 | Iran has sent Hamas’s military wing tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel’s invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told The Sunday Telegraph. It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighbourhoods in Israel during the war... Iran has sponsored Hamas’s military operations for years, despite the contradiction that Hamas is part of the worldwide, Sunni-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood, while Iran is Shia... [The Telegraph UK, April 4, 2015]
Oddly, none of this background found its way into the AFP/France24 report. Might this be connected to the way Gaza's misery is a function of what Gaza's powerful insiders (most of whom live far from Gaza) decide to approve and to refuse? Gazans know (and are prepared to get beaten in the streets for it), even if the news people don't.

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