What it’s like in Gaza for the Palestinians

Palestine comic

It’s easy to dismiss the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a battle between civilized Westerners and barbaric terrorists. However, it’s better to think of it as a battle between the relatively rich Israelis and slum dwelling Palestinians. The Israelis live a lot like us and the Europeans whereas the Palestinians live like this:

Israeli patrols tightly enforce a three-mile limit in the Mediterranean and fire on boats that approach the line. […]

The Israeli blockade includes a ban on toys, so the only playthings available have been smuggled, at a premium, through tunnels from Egypt […]

Many of Gaza’s sports facilities have been destroyed by Israeli bombings, including the headquarters for the Palestinian Olympic team. […]

Israeli authorities maintain a list of about three dozen items that they permit into Gaza, but the list is closely kept and subject to change. Almost no construction materials—such as cement, glass, steel, or plastic pipe—have been allowed in, on the ground that such items could be used for building rockets or bunkers. […]

According to Haaretz, the I.D.F. has calculated that a hundred and six truckloads of humanitarian relief are needed every day to sustain life for a million and a half people. But the number of trucks coming into Gaza has fallen as low as thirty-seven. […]

Until Operation Cast Lead, there were several concrete plants, a flour mill, and an ice-cream factory, but they have all been bombed or bulldozed, and the mixing trucks for the concrete have been knocked over. Houses and mosques and shops lie in rubble; entire neighborhoods have been demolished. […]

Most economic activity came to a halt in 2007, with the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Now, according to the U.N., about seventy per cent of Gazans live on less than a dollar a day, and seventy-five per cent rely on international food assistance. […]

[T]he tanks that line the border do lob shells into the territory, causing many random casualties. While I was there, a teen-age girl was killed, and her young brother injured, in such an incident. The Israelis maintain a buffer zone along the border about half a mile deep, which places at least thirty per cent of the Strip’s arable land off limits. […]

The Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, warned that Gazans were “bringing upon themselves a greater Shoah, because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate.” […]

(h/t Yglesias)

Now imagine you were a Palestinian in Gaza. Wouldn’t you be angry? Would you be willing to end the struggle or even contemplate peace before your life improved?

If you’d like to read/see more about what it’s like in the occupied territories, I can’t recommend Joe Sacco’s Palestine enough. It’s a comic book based on Sacco’s trip to Gaza and the West Bank in the 1990s.