The reality on the ground in Gaza, with the devastation of the recent war still fresh and homes not re-built due to Israel and Egypt’s blockade on cement, is explained in the Los Angeles Times.
“I lived through the 1967 [Middle East] war, but I’ve never seen days like this before,” said Souad Abdrabo, 53, who said her home was destroyed in the winter by Israeli bulldozers. Now she and her husband are sleeping under a canopy on foam mattresses next to the rubble because they say they can’t find an apartment.
Like many here, the couple received more than $5,000 cash for emergency aid from U.N. and other groups. They also own a plot of vacant land they could use to rebuild. But without materials and supplies, they can only wait.
“We’re being wiped out in front of the eyes of the world and nobody cares,” she said.
Zvi Bar’el writes in Haaretz that Israel’s siege on Gaza is a cynical exercise:
Gaza, like its sister city, Sderot, has fallen off the map. Since the Qassams stopped falling, this twin-city alliance has disintegrated. The unofficial tahadiyeh (lull) in place for six months has made life “routine” again: Gaza is under siege, as usual, and Sderot has returned to the back pages.
Yet, if life in Gaza has returned to normal despite the siege, and Israeli intelligence is capable of cataloging the amount of cement, fuel and iron being smuggled in from Egypt, the size of the transactions as well as Hamas’ taxes on smuggled goods, why not take the steps that should have been taken long ago? Open the gates of Gaza and allow everyone to import, export, profit and build. Allow students to study at universities in Jordan and Egypt. Break Hamas’ monopoly over the economy. And most important, stop with the bluffing already. This is the same bluff Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to peddle successfully – that opening the Gaza crossings is dependent on the release of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.
Shalit has been held captive for three years now. Three years of sanctions and one cruel war against Gaza to win his release, and nothing. Yet somehow, the deceptive equation according to which “crossings equal Shalit” has taken hold. We can once again note that the price for Shalit is calculated in Palestinian prisoners, not in crossings or traded goods. The price tag for opening the crossings is different: an end to rocket fire on the communities in the south. These two formulas have not changed since Shalit was abducted. Netanyahu is the only one trying to blur this distinction.
Because Netanyahu knows the truth, there is a sneaking suspicion that perhaps Shalit has done well in serving what some call “the Israeli interest.” As long as he is in captivity, Israel can continue to squeeze Hamas, isolate Gaza and maintain the distinction that in the West Bank live the nice Palestinians who very soon will build a brand new city, while in Gaza sit the terrorists.