Jul 29 2010
Contrary to what Paliwood Propaganda and the Western liberal media would like you to believe, stores in Gaza are overflowing with goods.
Journalist Ashraf Abu Al-Houl wrote in Al-Ahram: “I was lastin Gaza in mid-February. Returning three weeks ago, I found it almost unrecognizable… and the greatest surprise was the nature of that change. I would have expected a change for the worse, considering the blockade – but the opposite was the case; it seemed as if it had emerged from the blockade.
“A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza’s coast. Further, the sight of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me.
Merchandise is sold more cheaply than in Egypt,although most of it is from the Egyptian market, and there are added shipping costs and costs for smuggling it via the tunnels – so that it could be expected to be more expensive.
” I toured the new resorts, most of which are quite grand, as well as the commercial markets, to verify my hypothesis. The resorts and markets have come to symbolize prosperity, and prove that the siege is formal or political, not economic. The reality [in Gaza] proves that the siege was broken even before Israel’s crime against the ships of the Freedom Flotilla in late May; everything already was coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt. If this weren’t the case, businessmen would not have been able to build so many resorts in under four months.”
“I began my search for the truth regarding the siege in Rafah, at the Saturday market, which was loaded with large quantities of merchandise and products of various kinds – at prices mostly lower than in Egypt, particularly for food products.”
“Business owner Abu Yousuf stood at his shop surrounded by hundreds of cans of food. Their price had dropped significantly in the past two months; in some cases by as much as 50%. Clothing vendor Abu Muhammad Al-Masri noted that there was an unprecedented glut on the clothing market in the Gaza Strip. Clothing comes into Gaza from two sources: the tunnels, which provide large quantities, and the border crossings to Israel, via which even more goods arrive, most of which piled up at Ashdod port [and are now coming into the Strip]. He clarified that the merchants wanted to sell [lots of]goods to get back some of their money… and so had increased the supply in the markets, leading to lower prices.
“Despite the drop in price due to the plethora of goods in the Gaza markets, the residents sense that even lower prices are on the way, due to the easing of the Israeli blockade. The consumers are carefully watching prices, [particularly for]smuggled electrical appliances and cars, and refrain from buying, expecting that merchandise will arrive via the border crossings [leading to a further drop in prices].
“A Gaza car showroom salesman said that he hoped to sell off his inventory and that he was not bringing in any new vehicles for fear of heavy losses. Anyone walking in the Gaza streets will see hundreds, if not thousands, of cars that entered Gaza from Egypt via the tunnels, and some of them are stolen. At the home and kitchen appliance dealers, there is a tempting array of all kinds of smuggled goods that sellers want to get rid of, due to the ongoing information about new products that Israel has decided toallow into to the city… “
“The Gaza resorts paint a picture of prosperity enjoyed by groups which have become rich from the blockade, because they either own tunnels or else work for the many international organizations in Gaza, headed by UNRWA.”
“The Gaza resorts are divided into several [categories], each of which has its own price range. This is not like it used to be, when all the tables on the beach were for the use of all the residents… I noticed that most of the resorts set a certain price for the tables near the sea, and a different price for tables farther away. This is in addition to high fees to enter the resort – no less than NIS 20 – and each activity within the [grounds] has its own fee. In short, a family visit, with a sandwich for each child, can cost up to NIS 500.
“Several months ago, Gaza had only one luxury resort, Zahrat Al-Madain. Today, another one opens up every day, such as Crazy Water, Aqua Park, and Al-Bustan. Most of them are owned by members, or associates, of Hamas. In addition, the Hamas municipalities [also] charge high fees, in Gaza terms, for the use of public beaches.”
“Walid Al-‘Awwad, a member of the Palestinian People’s Partypolitical bureau, said, ‘In the past two years, money-laundering has flourished in Gaza, as reflected by the construction of numerous resorts – all of which belong to influential individuals who participate in trafficking via the tunnels. The spread of the grand resorts reflects the emergence of a bourgeoisie. Some of the fluidity in the Gaza market stems from the activity of clandestine elements – distributors of drugs, arms, and tunnel merchandise.’
This huge investment in the leisure industry is taking place today in Gaza at a time when 80% of the residents depend on aid from UNRWA, (the U.S.) and other organizations, and unemployment is at 45%. This creates a distorted picture, particularly when merchandise is piling up in the shops in a way that does not reflect the economic situation. Perhaps the current government createdthis distorted situation in order to show that it had succeeded in breaking the siege…”
The PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida stated: “The Al-Bustan resort, on the coast, belongs to an Islamic association linked to Hamas. It offers a cafeteria, a restaurant, and fish ponds; it gets 1,000 visitors a day, and about 2,000 during the weekend.”
“In May, Bisan Tourism City was established in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Previously a garbage dump, the 270-dunam [site], which belongs to the Hamas government, provides a leisure and vacation [destination] for Gaza residents… It cost $1.5 million, under the oversight of Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad. The city includes an 86-dunam park and a small zoo, and two Olympic-size swimming pools for children and adults. According to its administration, on weekends it hosts some 6,000 visitors... The administration bans hookah smoking and card games, and three religious conventions are held thereevery week.
Upscale mall opens in Gaza.
The Palestinian website Firas Press reported: “This week, Gaza’s first mall opened. The inaugural ceremony was attended by Hamas ministers and officials, along with merchants and investors. Hamas Welfare Minister Ahmad Al-Kurd said, “The mall will participate in meeting the basic needs of the population, against the backdrop of the siege, with merchants bringing in [goods] via the border crossings and the tunnels. MEMRI