What Gaza really needs: not a boat-load of activists

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 30, 2011

Almost six years since Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip, nothing there is what it seems.

A Hamas junta rules, but the civilian government departments are run from the PA in Ramallah, financed by money Israel allows to go through.

A blockade is ostensibly in place, but hundreds of lorries go through the crossings from Israel every day, carrying almost everything except what is now a limited list of "dual-purpose" materials that can also be used for the manufacture of arms and fortifications. Cement and steel are allowed in for use in 150 internationally supervised building projects, but building materials are streaming in freely through the tunnels beneath Rafah, unhindered by the Egyptian Army, as are new cars.

Freedom of movement in and out of the Strip is still limited, but since the intermittent opening by the Egyptian government of the Rafah Crossing, it has improved.

While Islamist vigilantes impose restrictions on women and girls on the streets, families still flock to UNRWA schools, where the religious strictures are lax. Hamas, still sworn to destroy the Zionist entity, for the most part is reining in other terror movements from launching attacks on Israel and has prevented mass-marches of civilians on the border fences.

Tale of two cities: a small proportion of Gaza benefits from international projects, while the rest gets poorer

Tale of two cities: a small proportion of Gaza benefits from international projects, while the rest gets poorer

No serious international government or organisation claims any longer that there is anything approaching a humanitarian crisis and yet, for Gazans, the siege, or even semi-siege, is still a daily reality. Many of them, especially young people, cannot obtain visas to leave via Egypt and there is no way for them to visit their relatives in the West Bank. The absence of open sea and air routes, and the dependency on Israel, Egypt and Hamas's rivals in the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, hampers any real development of commerce and infrastructure.

Few, if any, of the supplies on the boats of the Second Gaza Freedom Flotilla are really needed in the beleaguered Strip. What the people of Gaza do need is a way out of the diplomatic limbo that has frozen life there ever since Hamas took over in June 2007. The flotilla cannot give them that, and as Hamas is not willing to change its policy, recognise Israel and the agreements signed with it, there is no sign that Israel will ease up its policy either.

Last updated: 1:15pm, June 30 2011