Friday, November 23, 2012

Gaza (Part 1)

Cover design by K.K.W,
image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Gaza: (part 1) is there no hope? By Aleksandar Ares. 

"...Thy lord has not forsaken thee, nor is he displeased with thee, and surely the future shall be better for thee then the past.." (1)
Watchtower, Rafah border with Egypt.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
The Gaza Strip is a portion of land on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea that borders Egypt on the southwest (11km) and Israel on the east and north (51km). At only 41km (25 miles)long, 6 to 12km wide, with a total area of 365sq km, population of 1.7 million, a yearly growth rate of 3.2% it has the highest growth rate in the world.    
Smuggling tunnel, Gaza Strip
It acquired its current northern and eastern boundaries at the cessation of fighting in the in the "Arab-Israeli war" 1948, confirmed by the Israel-Egypt armistice agreement on Feb 24th 1949. At first Gaza was administered by the "all-Palestine" government, established by the Arab league in Sept 1948.

From the dissolution of the "all-Palestine" government in 1959 until 1967, Gaza was directly administered by an Egyptian military governor. After the "Six-Day" war in 1967 (started by Israel)Gaza was under Israeli control until 1993 via the Oslo Accord, then the Palestinian Authority became the administrative body. Although Israel maintained control of the airspace, territorial waters and border crossings, apart from the land border with Egypt, until its unilateral disengagement in 2005.      

Gaza strip barrier fence
At present Gaza is controlled by Hamas (considered a militant group that has & continues to engage in acts of "terrorism")due to its winning of the Palestinian Parliamentary elections held on Jan 25 2006 (42% of the total vote & 74 out of the 132 total seats)from the Fatah Palestinian political party.

Fatah was founded in 1959 by Yasser Arafat (died 2004). It is considered to maintain a number of militant/terrorist groups. Once Hamas took control of Gaza, Israel and key players of the international community, United States and the E.U refused to recognize it. 

Direct aid to the Palestinian Government was cut off. Political disorder and stagnation led to many Palestinians emigrating from the Gaza Strip. Following this, there were armed clashes between Fatah & Hamas with many killed on both sides, with the violence spreading to much of Gaza. 


A truce was formed at the end of Jan 2007 with a short lived coalition government between the two sided on March 17th 2007. It kept until June 14th 2007, when Hamas, using force replaced most if not all government officials with their own.

Many feel that the situation is made worse by the economic sanctions enforced by Israel and the United States. Associated Press reporter Ibrahim Barzak wrote, "Today I have seen people shot before my eyes, I heard the screams of terrified women and children in a burning building, and I argued with gunmen who wanted to take over my home. I have seen a lot in my years as a journalist in Gaza, but this is the worst its been"(2). 

Image from the last round of air-strikes on Gaza
by the IDF . Image courtesy of Getty images. 
In many ways has been the unfortunate state of things in the Gaza Strip, with the situation going from violent confrontations to "cease-fire" to further acts of violence. Its quite clear that the people within Gaza, in a way prisoners of a wave of violent conflicts, suffer more then those who take part in the conflicts.

The economic embargoes, security restrictions, imposed by Israel as well as the closure policy has led to high levels of poverty, unemployment, and an almost total collapse of the private sector (heavily dependent on export markets). The population is largely dependent on humanitarian assistance, primarily from UN agencies.   
Wreckage from the air-strike that killed Ahmed Jabari,
one the top leaders of Hamas & one of Israel's most wanted.
Image courtesy of Huffington Post.  
For any kind of lasting peace to reign Hamas has to step down as the ruling government, which damn unlikely to happen, or changes its hard-line destruction policies towards Israel. And Israel of course would have to commit to the same, as clearly the last round of violence started after the assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari. Of course the Israeli government had, I'm sure, ample reason to green-light the air-strike and operation that killed him. And in turn Hamas would claim to have ample reason to have used violence against Israel.   

Gershon Baskin- an Israeli peace activist- told Haaretz that senior officials in Israel knew about his contacts with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence, aimed at formulating a permanent truce, but nevertheless approved the assassination (Haaretz via Huffington Post). 

Jabari was killed on Wed November 14th 2012, as part of a larger Israeli offensive in Gaza called operation "Pillar of Defense". Palestinian militants barraged Israel with nearly 150 rockets on Thursday November 15th 2012.        
Wreckage of an Israeli home after rockets fired by
Palestinian militants.  Photo taken by Uriel Sinai.
With so much anger, hatred, and want of vengeance due to past wrongs, even if the current government on either side came to peace, their are still the individuals who may still seek retribution upon those they perceive as their enemies. 

So the question still remains, is there no hope? I believe the answer is yes, and its starts with the individuals, on both sides, who will come to see there is no point to the violence. They will have to take peaceful measures to make their governments understand that they don't want this anymore. The rest of the world must understand that serious economic improvements must be made to the Gaza  Strip area for this to happen. For when people have a better life and opportunities it becomes harder for them to go along with pointless violence.

Israel should take steps to lifting its economic sanctions and restrictions on Gaza, not to mention withdrawal from Palestinian lands its currently occupying. But first the Palestinians and Hamas must accept Israel's right to exist (those who agree to the contrary).           
Kite flying event at Gaza beach. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
If you would like to know more, go,, or: (1)dialogue between T.E Lawrence and Faisal of Mecca (Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi), from the 1962 movie "Lawrence of Arabia". 
(2)"Eyewitness: carnage in Gaza". Jerusalem Post, retrieved 2011-05-21.

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