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memri
January 29, 2018 No.
148

Is Gaza In Need Of Qatar's Aid?

Four years after the 2014 Gaza war, the myth that there is a need to rebuild Gaza persists. This myth is nurtured by both Israeli and U.S. officials. Touring the Hamas  attack tunnels that lead into Israel from Gaza, U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt expressed harsh criticism of Hamas for wasting resources on "tunnels and rockets to attack Israel, instead of helping the people of Gaza by getting the lights on, the water flowing, and the economy growing."[1]  


Greenblatt (right) in Hamas tunnel (source: Twitter.com/jdgreenblatt45?lang=enon, January 28, 2018)

Senior Israeli officials told the Israeli daily Haaretz last week that Qatar is "one of the only countries in the world that truly cares about improving the situation in Gaza,"[2] implying that Qatar's aid is needed.

But does Gaza really need Qatar's aid, four years after the war? And if it does not, who is served by the myth that it does, and for what purpose?

First the facts: Inequality exists across the globe, from east to west, and Gaza is no exception. But the depiction of Gaza in its entirety as wracked by poverty and destruction and in desperate need of the world's assistance is a lie – as has been shown not by Israeli propaganda but by BBC Arabic, and by none other than Al-Jazeera, Qatar's media arm.

Al-Jazeera has been broadcasting reports on a very different Gaza; a November 26, 2017 Al-Jazeera TV report on the development of Gaza shopping centers clearly show a commercial boom there (to view the MEMRI TV clip of this report, click here ). A January 13, 2018 Al-Jazeera program showed how youth unemployment in Gaza – a problem in many parts of the world, including India and Europe – is being addressed, with computer training that will allow distance employment. The video shows vocational training centers, universities, and vibrant student life in Gaza (to view the entire untranslated Al-Jazeera program, click here). In late 2016, BBC Arabic aired a story on Gaza restaurants, showing, in its words, "an aspect of luxury, vibrancy, and riches" in Gaza life (to view the MEMRI TV clip of this report, click here).

In early January 2018, the Israeli Defense Ministry's Border Crossings Authority published a report on Israel-Gaza traffic, according to which in 2017 alone 160,000 trucks laden with food and goods of all kinds entered Gaza from Israel (read the report here). Obviously, Gaza wholesalers are buying these goods, and customers are buying from them.[3]

Last year's power cuts in Gaza were the result of the Palestinian Authority's failure to pay the electricity bill. Since other Arab countries have taken on the responsibility for this payment, the crisis has subsided, and there is electricity for more hours every day. If the Gazans would pay what it costs for electricity around the clock, they would have it. Can they foot this bill? The videos mentioned above indicate that they likely can. 

For years, Israel's approach to Qatar, like the U.S.'s, has been inexplicable. Both have not only turned a blind eye to Qatar's hostile, anti-U.S., antisemitic, and terror-supporting policies, but have also helped it in every possible way. Regarding the U.S., there is an ostensible explanation – Qatar built Al-Udeid Air Base for the U.S., and hosts CENTCOM's forward headquarters there, so the U.S. feels indebted, though mistakenly. Ever since the current emir's father deposed his own father, Qatar has been in vital need of the U.S. presence in it, in full force, to defend its regime against its regional neighbors. Without its American base, it is lost.[4]

But Israel's policy vis-à-vis Qatar is baffling. Qatar is a  supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and the Islamic Movement in Israel, and an ally of Turkey, which considers itself an enemy of Israel and which under President Erdoğan adheres to the Islamist ideology that seeks to annihilate it, as well as an ally of Iran. Israel is also the object of daily incitement by Al-Jazeera, Qatar's media arm, including incitement to terror attacks (see MEMRI TV clip) by its own media arm, Al Jazeera. The only possible explanation is that Israel's misguided policy vis-à-vis Qatar is in the hands of senior officials with an axe to grind, approved by a prime minister who is misinformed about both Qatar and Gaza.

In any event, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt see Israel supporting their enemy Qatar in its bid to expand Doha's influence in Hamas-ruled Gaza, four years after the war, when its economy has not only rebounded but is booming, they can only conclude that Israel is playing a double game – the destructive results of which are bound to come sooner or later.

*Yigal Carmon is President of MEMRI.

 

[1] Twitter.com/jdgreenblatt45?lang=enon, January 28, 2018.

[2] Haaretz (Israel), January 20, 2018.

[3] This truck traffic notwithstanding, the Israeli government still says that there is a closure on Gaza, and  neither Israel's prime minister nor any other Israeli minister has ever stood and explained to foreign journalists at the Kerem Shalom Israel-Gaza crossing, in front of the hundreds of trucks entering Gaza daily, that this "closure" is actually inspection to stop arms and products with multiple purposes from being smuggled in.

[4] See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 146, Qatar, The Emirate That Fools Them All, And Its Enablers, January 18, 2018.