Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Gaza You’ve Never Seen

It’s common to hear from uninformed observers that the Gaza Strip is a “big concentration camp” — and that the IDF is to blame for the difficulties of day-to-day life in the area.

That’s not the whole story, to say the least. The Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas, a terrorist group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction. Rockets fired from the strip routinely strike southern Israel. With these simple facts in mind, it is easy to understand why the IDF cannot allow imports into Gaza without first inspecting the contents and ensuring that there are no weapons.

Palestinians shop at the new al-Andulusia mall in Gaza City, August 2011. Photo by Hatem Moussa, AP

There’s more to the big picture. In certain areas of Gaza, business is booming. Every day, the IDF facilitates the transfer of thousands of tons of goods and gas into the Gaza Strip. These products are delivered to Gaza merchants as well as international aid organizations, such as UNRWA or the Red Cross.

Take a look at Gaza as you’ve probably never seen it in the papers:

But some things can’t go in, right?

Wrong! All items can go in, even dual-use items — those that can be used for both civilian and military purposes, like certain fertilizers that can be used to build rockets. This policy is in accordance with the Wassenaar Arrangement, the international legal protocol on export controls. Dual-use items merely require an extra security check to make sure they’ll reach the right hands (UNRWA, Red Cross), and not those of Hamas or the other terror groups in Gaza.

Why do I always see different pictures of Gaza in the media?

No single photograph can capture the entire reality of life in Gaza. It’s common to hear that Gaza is a “big concentration camp” — but that is a lie.

A hotel in Gaza. Photo by Mohammed Asad

As a 2010 report in the Washington Post described:

“[Gaza] grocery stores are stocked wall-to-wall with everything from fresh Israeli yogurts and hummus to Cocoa Puffs smuggled in from Egypt. Pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid in the United States.”

To learn more, check out these examples of photos from the Gaza Strip as well as these examples of staged photography.

The central public library in Gaza. Photo by Laura Goldman

IDF Blog

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