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Gaza Since the Election of Hamas

April 2006

Many things have changed in the Gaza Strip since Hamas won the elections in January 2006 according to the public will. The E.U. and U.S. announced the halt of their assistance to the Palestinian Authority and accordingly employees salaries have not been paid on time and it is even said now that the Authority is broke and salaries will not be paid (employees in government institutions in Gaza Strip form 37% of the total percentage of workers in Gaza Strip). This may cause increasing poverty, which reaches now 68% according to the United Nations Report. In addition, a great percentage of Palestinians lost their jobs due to closures preventing them from going working in Israel.

Things do not stop there as Israel is now following a policy of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilians. The main commercial crossings are closed and goods required to meet people’s daily basic needs are being stopped from entering the Gaza Strip. This has led to a shortage of many basic necessities and to increasing prices of available materials in the local markets. Work has stopped in many sectors because of these shortages.

This situation has caused general discontent among residents of the Gaza Strip and many groups have resorted to kidnapping foreigners as a way to pressure the international community to take just measures vis-à-vis the situation in the occupied territories. Therefore, many international institutions and international journalists have withdrawn their staff from the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Israel has seized the opportunity to commit more crimes against Palestinian civilians in the northern and eastern Gaza Strip. Israeli artilleries on borders and Israeli boats in the Mediterranean have been shelling defenseless civilians in the northern and eastern Gaza Strip, especially the areas adjacent to the borders. Many homes belonging to poor families in northern Bait Lahia were totally or partially demolished due to the intensive Israeli shelling. Many shells fell in houses killing one child and injuring many others. Many families have left their unsafe houses to live with their relatives who are further from the shelling. The shelling has also reached agricultural lands and many farmers are not able to reach their farms because much of the agricultural land is along the border and therefore is impossible to reach because of the danger of shelling. Many agricultural land reclamation projects have also stopped.

Further exacerbating the situation, the bird flu is breaking out in Gaza without any serious intervention from the international community, which is alarming considering that the small area and dense population of the Gaza Strip will surely facilitate the possibility of an epidemic and the potential for many casualties. The possibility of a real human disaster is looming in the Gaza Strip. People are afraid of the potential results if no real measures are taken to alleviate the deteriorating situation.

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