‘Israel destroys the economic prospects of Gaza....’

Published: 2 September 2011
Briefing Number 296

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Summary:  It is commonly claimed that Israel is to blame for the state of the  economy of the Palestinians in Gaza.  This Briefing contains a concise response to this claim written by Amir Ofek, an Israeli diplomat based in London.  The rebuttal appeared in the letters page of the UK-based Guardian newspaper on 25 August 2011.

Key message: At the very heart of the Palestinian situation in Gaza is the culture of terror directed against Israel.  That is the ultimate cause of the economic situation of Gaza. You don’t have to agree with every detail of what Ofek writes to acknowledge that this is a basically credible argument, which deserves to be heard..... but rarely is.

Amir Ofek writes:

Sami Abdel-Shafi (comment, 23 August) justifiably mourns the lack of economic opportunities in Gaza, but yet again comes to the only Palestinian conclusion – it must be Israel’s fault.  Israel provided business development courses for thousands of Palestinian professionals during the 1990s, which had to cease due to the horrific terror wave of the second intifada.  Tens of thousands of Palestinians used to work in Israel, until Palestinian terror also put an end to this.

Then Israel set up industrial zones around Gaza, in which Israelis and Palestinians worked together. Terror attacks, including Palestinians attacking their fellow Israeli workers, forced the zones to be deserted.  Next, Israel withdrew from Gaza, leaving behind extensive agricultural infrastructure. Thousands of rockets were fired on to the homes of Israeli citizens from the exact same greenhouses that could have offered the Gazans amazing economic opportunities. [We should clarify this statement: Ofek is referring to the state-of-the-art, hi-tech greenhouses which Israel left behind after their withdrawal, several of which were then trashed by Palestinian gangs.  The thousands of rockets which have been fired into Southern Israel have been launched from various launching points in the Gaza Strip area – Beyond Images].  

Mr Abdel-Shafi should be asking his fellow Palestinians, Hamas and others, to comply with the international community’s demand to renounce terror.  After which, there should be plenty of new economic opportunities for Gaza”.

- End of letter -

Some related Beyond Images resources

Beyond Images Briefing 126 – 7 January 2005
Sabotaging recovery: Attacks on Palestinian industrial zones and crossing points

This Briefing describes several attacks by Palestinian gunmen and suicide bombers on the Erez industrial zone (where thousands of Palestinians used to work) and on crossing points which were used by Palestinian workers to move between Gaza and Israel.  These attacks caused hardship for Palestinians and sabotaged their society’s prospects for economic recovery.

Beyond Images Briefing 199 – 15 August 2007
“The Western economic boycott has brought the Gaza Palestinians to their knees....”

This Briefing describes the high level of international financial support for the Palestinian people of Gaza. We quote a senior UN official describing it as “stunning”. The biggest single source of this support has been the US, and the support has been facilitated by Israel.