Life in GAZA vs the WEST BANK: The problem is NOT Israel, it's Hamas

There is not a single Israeli left in Gaza while the West Bank is still under Israeli control. The West Bank is prosperous and thriving and many residents enjoy an upscale lifestyle. Stylishly-dressed women there have their own radio station. Gazans have Hamas, and therein lies the difference.

West Bank women even have their own car racing team.

Wandering around the West Bank town of Nablus, I saw the shops and restaurants were full. There were plenty of expensive cars on the streets. Indeed I counted considerably more BMWs and Mercedes than I’ve seen, for example, in downtown Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.

… The shops and restaurants were also full when I visited Hebron recently, and I was surprised to see villas comparable in size to those on the Cote d’Azur or Bel Air had sprung up on the hills around the city. Life is even better in Ramallah, where it is difficult to get a table in a good restaurant.

New apartment buildings, banks, brokerage firms, luxury car dealerships and health clubs are to be seen. In Qalqilya, another West Bank city that was previously a hotbed of terrorists and bomb-makers, the first ever strawberry crop is being harvested in time to cash in on the lucrative Christmas markets in Europe. Local Palestinian farmers have been trained by Israeli agriculture experts and Israel supplied them with irrigation equipment and pesticides.

A new Palestinian city, Ruwabi, is to be built soon north of Ramallah. Last month, the Jewish National Fund, an Israeli charity, helped plant 3,000 tree seedlings for a forested area the Palestinian planners say they would like to develop on the edge of the new city. Israeli experts are also helping the Palestinians plan public parks and other civic amenities.

…In June, the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl related how Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told him, ‘In the West Bank we have a good reality,’ Abbas told Diehl. ‘The people are living a normal life,’ he added in a rare moment of candor to a Western journalist.

Nablus stock exchange head Ahmad Aweidah went further in explaining to me why there is NO RUSH TO DECLARE STATEHOOD, saying ordinary Palestinians need the IDF to help protect them from Hamas, as their own security forces aren’t ready to do so by themselves yet. The truth is that an independent Palestine is now quietly being built, with Israeli assistance. SPECTATOR UK

ANOTHER LUXURY PALESTINIAN SHOPPING MALL OPENS ON THE WEST BANK.

This is the kind of story (from the Israeli paper Ha’aretz) that most Western journalists prefer not to cover. After all, it might spoil the negative image of Israel and undermine the myth of the totally “impoverished” West Bank that they carefully spin for their readers.

“The skies lit up over Jenin last month, and it wasn’t tracer bullets or flash bombs but celebratory fireworks, set off to mark the occasion of the opening of Hirbawi Home Center mall, a new luxury establishment on the city’s outskirts.

“The five-story building is filled with deluxe, foreign-made products seen mostly in the pages of newspaper supplements… The profit forecasts for the project have been so favorable that the owner plans to open four more shops in the West Bank and one in Jordan. “The next city to enjoy a Hirbawi Home Center is Ramallah, where one is already in partial operation; then Hebron, Tulkarem and Nablus. ‘We believe we can make a very handsome profit. Many people in the occupied territories have money,’ says the chain’s CEO, Ziad Turabi…

“It turns out that quite a few Palestinians consider a plasma screen, a surround sound stereo and comfortable chairs to be fairly essential items. Here, on the fifth floor of the Jenin operation, overlooking the fields separating Israel from Jenin, are the in-demand electric gadgets: enormous plasma TV screens, vacuum cleaners, espresso machines, and the list goes on and on. Turabi points out that some products are only available in Home Center shops. ‘This is an espresso machine that grinds the coffee beans,’ he says. ‘People want more and more of these products. They ask for the finest quality.’”

And luxury villas are springing up around Ramallah. Even in Gaza, there are some wealthy neighborhoods.

Most Western journalists and their Palestinian fixers studiously avoid reporting these stories. It might spoil the image of dire poverty they have created for the benefit of world opinion and international donor governments. LINK