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Photo Evidence of ‘Myth of Siege of Gaza’

An Israeli study explodes the "myth of the siege of Gaza. The Washington Post reports: Pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 6/9/2010, 8:03 AM / Last Update: 6/9/2010, 8:28 AM

Israel news photo

The” myth of the siege of Gaza” has been exploded in a research report that quotes Arab sources that say “Gaza markets are saturated with goods.” The Washington Post reported last week that Gaza “pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid.”

Reserve IDF officer Lt. Col. Jonathan HaLevi, a researcher for the Institute for Contemporary Affairs, wrote that Israel’s continuing supervised flow of humanitarian aide to Gaza also has helped the Gaza economy rebound.

‘Gaza is not cut off from the outside world,” he wrote, and added that the large supply of goods and merchandise, including fuel oil, that enters Gaza through smuggling tunnels and pipelines from Egypt has actually helped bring down the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel to half the price in Israel.

Claims by United Nations officials, reported without investigation by most mainstream media, have falsely promoted the image of a humanitarian crisis and a scarcity of foods and merchandise in Gaza, implying that Gaza Arabs share the plague of famine as in India and other countries.

HaLevi’s reported stated, “Recently, Rep. Ron Paul told Don Imus on the Fox Business Channel that Israel was "preventing food and medicine from going into Gaza. He said there are 'people that are starving' and closed with a vile suggestion that the situation of the Gazans was 'almost like in concentration camps.'"

However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted to a Congressional committee last April, “The [Gaza] crossings are no longer completely closed…. A lot of what has been said was not permitted to cross is just not accurate.”

Janine Zacharia of the Washington Post reported last week, "If you walk down Gaza City's main thoroughfare -Salah al-Din Street - grocery stores are stocked wall-too-wall with everything from fresh Israeli yogurts and hummus to Cocoa Puffs smuggled in from Egypt.” Smuggled goods are cheaper than the regular price.

The Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency stated last February, "Gaza markets are saturated with goods." Beaches are filled with vacationers as well (photot below).

The de facto Hamas government in Gaza also has received $5 billion in cold cash since it took over control of the area from the rival Fatah faction in a bloody militia war three years ago this month. Hamas also receives millions of dollars in direct aid from Arab countries as well from the United Nations and European Union, which until last November paid for the diesel fuel to run the Gaza power plant.

The French newspaper LeMonde last October quoted Bassem Khoury, minister of national economy for the Palestinian Authority, that Hamas has profited so much from the smuggling tunnel system and outside aid that it “doesn't know what to do with its money. Taxpayers in Europe should know that as a result of this system their money ends up in Hamas' pocket."  

HaLevi pointed out that the tunnel system not only supplies Hamas with more weapons it but also “serves such criminal purposes as drug running and trafficking in young women.” The Kuwaiti newspaper Awan last December reported on the phenomenon of "importing" minor girls from Egypt and selling them into prostitution in Gaza, supposedly for purposes of marriage or domestic work.

He said Hamas exploits the smuggling tunnels for “sending fighters for training in Iran and Syria, and for the import of advanced weapons systems, [including] antiaircraft and anti-tank missiles), explosives, and ammunition."

HaLevi maintained, “The position of the human rights organizations, which paint an exaggerated picture of the effects of the siege, is marred by a double standard. On the one hand, they argue vehemently that Israel is still an occupying power and must therefore see to the "security and welfare of the residents of Gaza"; yet on the other hand, the welfare and security of Gaza's residents have been severely harmed by the Hamas regime, with its gradual imposition of Islamic law while violently suppressing the opposition.

“According to their logic, Israel is obligated to help an enemy entity that is attacking it. If this were true, the United States would have a duty to extend assistance to villages in Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban fighters who are attacking coalition forces.”

The flow of weapons into Gaza occasionally is stopped by Egyptian authorities who last May seized a large cache of weapons and explosives that were slated to be smuggled into Gaza from the Sinai. The weapons stockpile included 61 anti-aircraft missiles, 40 anti-tank mines, 15 standard mines, and 5 machine guns with ammunition. Last April 1, an Egyptian newspaper reported that security forces had seized 100 anti-aircraft missiles, 45 rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and 40 explosive devices.