Gone to hell in Gaza — again

April 1, 2007

All that has gone wrong in Gaza since the Israelis pulled out over a year ago was summed up by the devastating incident at the Bedouin town of Umm Nasser in the north of the Strip late last week. The levees containing a sewerage holding basin broke, and in the ensuing flood as many as eight Gazans were killed, and the whole town flooded with sewage.

umm nasser

At first, Israel was blamed for the disaster, with claims that the IDF had threatened to bomb construction workers at the site. Then it was attributed to the withdrawal of US and European funding following Hamas’ election victory early last year. (But this AP report makes clear, the problems with Gaza’s infrastructure long pre-dated the election of the Hamas-dominated government.)

The truth, in fact, seems very different. Israel had been selling steel pipes to the Gazans to reinforce the levees. The Gazans converted the pipes into casings for Qassam rockets to fire into Israel. So in one of those deathless ironies that life seems to rejoice in visiting on us, the material provided by the Israelis for humanitarian use by the Palestinians was converted into death engines to be fired back at them.

A quick note on Qassams:

Qassams are fuelled by a solid propellant made of potassium nitrate (fertiliser) and sugar, which is melted down to a combustible toffee in domestic kitchens. This fuel is packed into casings, made out of the steel poles used to mount traffic lights. The advantage of the Qassam is that it can be fired at Israel over the security wall, largely without endangering the lives of the terrorists. The disadvantage is that they are unguided but the terrorists have learned by trial and error that if they fire enough of them they will eventually murder Israelis.

Apparently the Palestinians have run out of traffic light poles in Gaza; hence the need for new supplies of casings.

Furthermore, the local villagers had been digging out the sand of the levees to sell to building contractors.

Israel offered to assist with the clean-up of Umm Nasser, but was refused.

It all seems so emblematic of the fate of the tiny Palestinian statelet, which not so long ago was being hailed as a potential Palestinian Hong Kong, a Singapore — awash with corruption and violence, but above all, awash with hatred.

Here Hamas TV eulogises a Gazan suicide bomber through the mouth of her own child.

Also in Gaza, Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist kidnapped nearly three weeks ago, continues to be held by as yet unidentified gunmen. Johnston, responsible for this gem of a report valorising the war crimes of Hamas, was described by his family as a friend of the Palestinian people. Judging by his reporting, I’d say that was unarguable

What a hellhole. Even their friends aren’t safe from them. Sometimes it’s tempting to think the Palestinians have some kind of collective death wish. Every choice they make is the wrong one.

Update: Even the Palestinians are beginning to realise that Gaza is at least damned, if not doomed.

Muhammad Dahlan, who was recently appointed PA National Security Adviser, said it was time to admit that a “curse has hit” the Gaza Strip. “Anyone who does not admit that there’s a curse in the Gaza Strip does not know what he’s talking about,” he said.



  1. Rob

    Very interesting post. Like all indescribable hell-holes, it won’t get any better until the residents start to take responsibility for their fate rather than seek to blame someone else.

  2. Graeme Bird on your blogroll??

  3. Taking responsibility for their own fate without blaming the world is the only thing that will improve the situation for the Palestinians — yes. But it’s the hardest and usually the last lesson to be learned.

    I like Birdy.

  4. Rob

    Are you still having problems posting at my site?

    Could use your help at LeftWrites.

  5. This is their response

  6. Yes, still can’t post, and get notification of an attack. This time I got this code in the Haloscan window:

    Javascript support must be enabled to post comments.
    Click here to go back to the comment page


  7. Well, the code for that command, anyway. 🙂

  8. Rob

    Saw your comment over at LW. You make some good points. I will investigate the pop up window you get, though i am not sure how to fix it. maybe to remove haloscan.

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