Skip to comments.Pain of Hamas boycott worse than feared for Gaza's people
Posted on 05/09/2006 9:26:10 AM PDT by Leisler
The international boycott of Hamas is having some unintended consequences.
Staff at the Palestinian Authority's environmental protection agency are grounded for lack of petrol money and are no longer able to monitor levels of industrial waste and sewage entering the water supply.
Surgeons at Gaza's biggest hospital have suspended non-essential surgery for lack of sutures, laboratory kits and anaesthetics.
The owner of a once-prosperous supermarket is pondering whether he can extend the credit limit of customers - who long since ran out of cash - without going broke himself.
As the World Bank re-ported at the weekend, the economic crisis confronting the Palestinians is even worse than that projected when international donors announced a cut-off of direct aid to the Hamas-led government.
Its own estimate that personal incomes would sink by 30 per cent this year while the number of people living in poverty would rise from 44 to 67 per cent of the population appears, in the words of the report, to have been too rosy.
The paper was prepared ahead of Tuesday's Middle East Quartet meeting in New York at which the US, European Union, United Nations and Russia will have to decide whether restrictions on aid will force Hamas to modify its stance towards Israel or, more likely, as the World Bank warns, provoke a humanitarian crisis, increased violence and the collapse of the PA.
The poor, many living in refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank, have had to adjust to living on humanitarian handouts since an Israeli ban on day labourers entering Israel deprived them of their readiest source of income.
The latest crisis, however, has begun to hit the middle classes, among them government employees who have remained at their desks in spite of facing a third straight month without pay.
Nabil Zakout, assistant director-general of the PA's Environment Quality Auth-ority, has not had a pay slip since March 5.
Mr Zakout's income was always modest - the equivalent of $500 a month for a senior grade post. With a $25,000 mortgage and four children to feed, he is surviving on loans from relatives until the money runs out.
Like most of his staff, he still turns up for work every day. "It's better to be employed with no pay than not to be employed at all."
But the British-trained water engineer is concerned about the wider impact of the crisis.
"There can be very serious consequences if institutions can't operate. In our case, water and air quality can deteriorate if we can't monitor," he says.
At Gaza's Shifa hospital, 1,300 doctors, nurses and administrators - also unpaid since March - are struggling to maintain essential services.
"Ninety per cent of people in the Gaza Strip depend on government health services," says Ibrahim al-Habash, hospital director. "We've suffered in the past but now it's worse and there is a real shortage of medication and other supplies. On top of that, some staff can't even afford the fare to work any more."
Ismail el-Jadba, a vascular surgeon, gets by on the salary his wife earns as a physician with Unrwa, the UN refugee agency not affected by the aid boycott, plus work at a private out-patient clinic. "That used to bring me Shk500 ($110) a day. Now it's down to Shk50."
Many of the 160,000 public employees now survive on credit - their combined debts amount to $340m, according to the European Commission - or on help from their families. "Palestinians are very close and what little they have they share," said Mr Zakout. "We haven't lost our social fabric. We're not that western yet".
At the Lebanon Paradise supermarket, an elderly veiled woman has come to beg for change. "A woman like that would never have done such a thing before," says Imad M'ttar, the owner, as he counts the day's takings - Shk1,940 ($430).
In the same day, he gave credit to trusted customers of twice that amount. "This store used to take $5,000 a day. Now no one has any money. I've had to lay off five of my 10 staff. I deal with a lot of government institutions and they always paid up. Now they want me to double their credit".
So far, few are blaming Hamas for their plight, in spite of the fact that the Islamist group's refusal to recognise Israel, lay down its weapons and abide by existing agreements provoked the international boycott.
"I didn't vote for Hamas or for Fatah," says Mr Zakout. "At the beginning of the boycott, we believed the west would eventually see our point of view because everyone knew it was a free and democratic election. Who's suffering? Not Hamas ministers or Fatah leaders but the people."
There is, nevertheless, concern that a deteriorating economic situation will exacerbate tensions between Hamas and Fatah. Three men were killed in clashes between the two factions yesterday. The mood is made worse by daily shellfire that booms almost constantly from the northern Gaza Strip as the Israeli army responds to sporadic rocket fire by militants.
Hamas insists that Palestinian steadfastness will prevail. "They have misunderstood the Arab mentality," says Khalil Abu Leila, a Hamas leader in Gaza. "As long as the pressure increases on Hamas, the more popular it will become. If it accepts conditions, its popularity will decrease
The West should revist the no money policy. Like, in 2016.
Life is tough and shi'ite hasppens..
Listen, I have a whole box of single edge razors I'll donate if the palis promise to use them to cut their own wrists.
Yup. If they're not blaming Hamas yet, then they're not hungry enough.
Hamas was VOTED in. These people are getting just what they wanted. This isn't the case of a dictator imposing it's will; it's a "nation" of islamofascists and terrorits who are suffering.
It's about time.
Gotta suck electing terrorists to be your leaders.
Especially if you are incapable of taking care of yourself.
Are not these the same people that celebrated 9/11? Doesn't this mean we can celebrate their demise at the hands of "reality"? Shoosh, they have their state and now find out they have nothing to eat. Well I am sure that the PA will set things straight real quick.
Wonder if they're still cheering 9/11?
LOL ... yeah, what you said.
Well, I guess when you spend all your available funds on nail-embroidered dynamite homicide-suicide vests and ground-to-ground missles for murdering as many infidels as possible, you can't pay for local necessities like public sanitation and hospitals. So sad.
I'm just glad we aren't subsidizing these absurdities any longer, and hope that we and the rest of the non-islamofascist world stick to that policy in the future.
Yet Hamas dismisses Western demands that it recognize Israel and renounce violence. Hamas fears an about-face would hurt it politically by making it look weak, said pollster Nader Said of Bir Zeit University. The militant group's exiled leaders, beholden to hard-line states Iran and Syria, have also crushed any compromise ideas floated by Hamas leaders in the West Bank and Gaza. For now, most Palestinians blame the West and Abbas for the crisis, and believe the new democratically elected government is being treated unfairly by the international community, said the pollster.
"Listen, I have a whole box of single edge razors I'll donate if the palis promise to use them to cut their own wrists."
That's essentially what they did by electing Hamas. It's what they did by bombing Israeli civilians in terrorist attacks, which is why the day laborers aren't allowed into Israel anymore (notice the article didn't mention that detail).
In short, it's what the Palis have done for decades, namely commit cultural suicide on the altar of Islam, so in fact your idea is redundant...
So bad Western people don't share with each other like good Arabs? And yet they expect their aid to come from the bad Westerners and not their Arab brothers?
Someone smart should explain this to me.
FRmail me to be added or removed from this Judaic/pro-Israel/Russian Jewry ping list.
Warning! This is a high-volume ping list.
Oh yeah, one other thing: Didn't Iran and a bunch of other Islamist jerks promise billions for the PA and Hamas? Guess their word isn't worth all that much, eh? Then again, that's no surprise...
Yup. If they're not blaming Hamas yet, then they're not hungry enough.""
No, its too soon!
Gee, ya know, I almost could feel sorry for the Philistines...............but then I remember how they danced and whooped it up on 9/11....and have the gall to appear before us with hands outstretched for a handout, moaning about how they need money, infrastructure breaking down, etc., etc., etc. When they see fit to stop terrorism, homicide bombings, declaring jihad everytime a butterfly breaks wind, and mooching off the American taxpayer, I'll see if I can find some sympathy for the Philistines.
"So bad Western people don't share with each other like good Arabs? And yet they expect their aid to come from the bad Westerners and not their Arab brothers?
Someone smart should explain this to me."
It's just your basic cognitive dissonance. Their core beliefs are "Muslims Good, Arab Dictatorships Good, Infidel Westerns and Jews Bad." Facts that contradict those core beliefs are simply ignored.
It's just like liberals. Their core belief is "GWB is Evil/the Anti-Christ." Facts that contradict that core belief are simply ignored...