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“The Hungry”

21 June 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Yesterday there was a demonstration of “the hungry” in Gaza City.   70% of the residents in the Strip are in need of food aid, much of it being received through the UN.  Gazans are faced with a population explosion, massive deep-rooted Palestinian Authority corruption and the continuing conflict with Israel.  This all adds up to very little employment as more than half of the men are unemployed and the women do not work.  International monies are being siphoned off by criminal PA officials, including Chairman Yasir Arafat who according to a report in a Kuwaiti paper recently transferred $5.1 million to his personal bank account to help defray costs for his wife and daughter living in Paris.  Most importantly much of the food supplies designated for the poor have been confiscated and resold on the black market. 

The hundreds of participants in the “Hunger Demonstration” demanded an end to suicide bombings and peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians thereby challenging all the terror organizations and Arafat’s well known terror policy which today he verbally condemns.  Apparently Gazans are in complete despair, since a “Hunger Demonstration” demanding an end to the conflict is not good for Arafat’s public relations game and may even not go well with the Europeans (but this is yet to be seen).

Left unsaid is that many of the participants remember the business connections or jobs they once had in Israel.  They know their situation was much better before the Arafat initiated terror offensive of 21 months ago.  This is not to say they have any great love for Israel, but realistically they view the Jewish state as a place of employment or as an aid in making a living.  For “the hungry” the immediate oppressors are not the Israelis but the PA but since they cannot demonstrate against Arafat and his henchmen they do the next best thing, call for peace and compromise by all sides.

One can imagine that the unilateral defensive Israeli action of establishment of the ‘separation fence’ frightens “the hungry” since a permanent policy of the ‘locked gate’ can be implemented and then they will be totally dependent on the PA.  This may have been the catalyst for the march and not the latest terror attacks against Israel as officially stated.

The demonstration was quite small and ineffective but it may be a promising beginning.