Monday, March 20, 2006

your love gives me such a thrill, but your love won't pay my bills...I want money!

Six people were wounded today (two in a separate incident) in fighting in Gaza between Palestinian police and gunmen demanding jobs and unpaid wages.

The gunmen blocked off the main road leading to the Erez terminal-used mainly by Palestinian officials and VIPs-and exchanged fire with security forces in a two-hour long battle. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's motorcade was on its way to Tel Aviv at the time for a follow-up meeting with Americans, Egyptians, Europeans, and Israelis on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

They then took the battle to Gaza City near where I live, shooting at a police station and in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Machine gun fire echoed throughout the city as police sirens wailed up and down the streets.

The gunmen belong mainly to Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, many who are demanding to be absorbed into an alrady boated and unsustainable security apparatus (the PA was running training wokrshops for some of the Brigade members, according two guys I overhead talking in an elevator last week. "But it will be a major problem. They just don't realize how many of us they are" one said). Some were part of a group hired into the security forces just before Hamas took power, and have not yet recieved their wages, as I reported in a story for the Guardian today.

The wage fears are not limited to security forces, which many argue do need to be streamlined anyway - municipality workers have been on strike for two days protesting late wages. Uncollected rubbish has piled up throughout the city, with many neighbourhoods opting to burn it to prevent rats from nesting.

The cash-strapped authority is finding it increasingly difficult to pay the salaries of the about 130, 000 people it employs as is-up to 70,000 of them security personnel, especially in the face of rising international pressure on the newly-elected Hamas government.

All of this is happening at a time that Gaza faces an unprecedented food shortage (Israel briefly reopened al-Mintar to allow trucks to deliver food today, only to close it again an hour later-in line with Weisglas's "diet but dont' kill" policy) , and as Gaza's economy is losing about $600,000 a day because of the closure, which has forced some farmers to feed their rotting vegetables to goats, while others are reduced to selling what remains of their marked-for-export produce in bulk on donkey carts in the city, charging only £1 for 20 kg of tomatoes on the vine.

Security will suffer in the long term: James Wolfensohn, the international community's envoy, recently warned that the Palestinian Authority could face imminent collapse unless aid was continued, leading to more violence and chaos.

As director of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs David Shearer told me last week, if the money for the security forces payroll runs out there will be 70,000 men running around Gaza, unable to feed their families, most of them armed, and approximately 1 million Palestinians without a bread winner.

These men, along with the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades members, will constitute one of the biggest challenges for the upcoming government-something I wrote about in an feature story for Aljazeera a few weeks back that hits on this very issue. The brigades, along with Islamic Jihad and the Marxist PFLP, are responsible for the bulk of rocket attacks against Israel and for kidnappings of foreigners, not Hamas.

They are loose cannons, used to the days of quick and easy payoffs, and are now demanding to be absorbed into an already bloated and unsustainable security apparatus "or else". Along with Israeli moves and western aid cuts, their actions threaten to destabilize the nascent Palestinian government before it even gets started.

How Hamas will deal with such threats remains to be seen, especially in the face of increasing international pressure and isolation. As the song says, "you're love gives me such a thrill, but you're love won't pay my bills-I want money!"

Hear is my interview with the BBC's World Update (click on "audio").


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila in audio we like, they should have you on the BBC 'Today' programe...

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... question is a serious one...The sibling rivalry between the two sons of Abraham does not just affect his descendants. It affects all of us on this planet. I am not listening to the politicains on either side because they talk out of both sides of their mouths and their actions don't back up their words in any case...I want to know from people just like ordinary mom who loves her family, her friends and her countrymen.

"Can you tell me what the Palestinians want?

Can you tell me what the Israelis want?

I have been trying to understand for years but just get more and more confused. Killing and killing and killing. Where does it get any of you?"

12:15 AM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Such as shame that your previous government cared more about putting money into their own pockets and buying villas and expensive cars than caring for their people. It's such shame that your currently elected government cares more about killing all the Jews and destroying Israel than caring for their own people. I hope your government will get their act together soon, so that you and your fellow citizens can live in peace and prosperity.

12:55 AM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

solitarioh, what an absolutely brilliant and, again, succint and well put argument. Well done again!

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Laila,

I enjoy reading your blog, it's good to get a human perspective on events in Gaza, away from the rhetoric of the various organisations.

I can't see things in Gaza improving anytime soon - for the rest of the world (the non-Muslim parts), the election of a militant Islamic group seems like a massive step backwards, or at least choosing to go down a path that will only lead to conflict with all other societies.

I don't know if you've seen the case of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan - where the government prosecutor is seeking his death for converting to Christianity.

Christians around the world have grown tired of funding groups, regimes and ideologies who use the funds to perpetrate evil, as in this instance.

The Rahman case isn't Hamas' fault - but if this really is true face of Islam: death for anyone persuing their conscience, then people will increasingly want to separate themselves from Muslims and their ideology. Hamas, and the Palestinans (both Muslim and Christian) will suffer as a result.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Olah & solitarioh2005, Why are you on this blog??? Just to prove what absolute asses you are? or how superior the Jews are to Palestinians?? talk about occupation, poor Laila has to live it on a daily basis & now she has to listen to you guys occupying her page!!!!

Leave her alone!!

H - an Israeli with a heart!!

6:02 PM  
Blogger ExpatEgghead said...

I would have loved to listen but all I get is the general page. Anything else?

7:59 PM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

sol, or may I call you peter?, don't bother answering people like anon. As, I've said earlier, people like that use those kinds of methods of attack because they have nothing substantial to say or add. I also don't believe that this person is an Israeli, only because it seems like a cheap ploy to add to the "validity" of his/her statement. Once again, pathetic.

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Palestinians can live without EU aid: finance minister designate Tue Mar 21, 6:36 AM ET

The Palestinian territories could survive without aid from the European Union and would find funding elsewhere if necessary, the German press reported the Palestinian finance minister designate as saying.

If the EU makes good on recent threats to suspend funding to the Palestinian territories "the consequences will be serious but not catastrophic", minister designate Omar Abdul Razeq told the Financial Times Deutschland.

"We can also survive without them," added the Hamas official, who was named on Sunday as part of a cabinet dominated by members of the militant Islamic group that won resounding victory in the Palestinian election in January.

Razeq, who was until recently in Israeli detention, said the Palestinians could turn to other possible sources of funding, including the Arab states. They were also ready to accept aid from Iran, he said, adding: "I see no problem with this as long as it is not tied to conditions."

The 25-nation EU is by far the biggest donor to the Palestinians, with annual contributions of about 500 million euros (600 million dollars).

But the bloc has made future help conditional on the new cabinet recognising Israel's right to exist, forswearing violence and accepting previously reached accords.

The EU warned Hamas on Monday that it stood at a crossroads but held off from cutting aid to the poverty-stricken Palestinian territories until Hamas's political programme became clear.

Razeq said Hamas was convinced that the EU would soon change its stance and would make no concessions "without getting something in return".


11:47 AM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Of course, Hamas was right. It's not surprising in the slightest that the EU has decided to keep giving money to the Palestinian government and with no conditions attached. Also, if Hamas thinks that they'll replace the money with-held by other governments with that given by their Arab/Muslim brothers, they're delluding themselves. Haven't seen any of them come forward to help in a real substantial way.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Olah & "Peter",
You are what you are, all you have to do is read your opinions & bombardments of Laila's board proves that I am right. I find it interesting that Olah has to question whether I am an Israeli or not, does he think all Israelis are unsympathetic to Palestinians? Then your head is buried in the sand and will not accept other opinions! and bytw, I am an Israeli citizen & hold an Israeli passport.


4:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't mind "H" everyone--another LWF (left-wing fascist) who feels it is okay to censor anyone who doesn't agree with him...fortunately, the rest of us, including the blogger herself, have a little more tolerance for disparate points of view. Shut up and read, H. Start your own blog if you want to censor people's opinions.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are lots of places in the world where hunger is never satisfied and a bowl of good rice and beans - and clean water -is never taken for granted. Milk powder is all there is. Luxuries are never seen.

I do not understand the demand for money. No one really wants to give anymore and everyone expects everything. And for what reason? We would rather steal than work. I do not think we can, or should, expect people we do not know or agree with to fund us and feed us. We should at least not demand it. And be thankful if we get it. Who owes us anything that we do not first owe ourself. Dignity and honesty has gone out of fashion to save face. We do not care anymore. It is all around the world today. Battling over power is as old as Time. Time will tell who is the more decent.

The demand for money? Who deserves to be given aid, and why, is one big question, especially because of their record of use and anti-west but I'll take your money theology. Humanitarian aid to help people is one thing -saying the West must fund the goverment is another. There are plenty of war torn countries in this world in desperate conditions. Some alot far worse of.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

anon H, there are plenty of Israeli who are sympathetic to the Palestinians. Unless I'm mistaken, all Israelis are human and have a heart. So, spare me with the pseudo-lecture. Secondly, why would you go out of your way to point out that you're Israeli if not to use it as a ploy to strengthen your "argument"? Also, a very good way that I know you're not Israeli is the fact that you don't know Hebrew. Good try, though. Better luck next time.

Anon (10:41 PM), good points.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

abu shaar, there's this old saying: "Statistics never lie, and liars use statistics." First of all, the link you gave doesn't work. Can you please provide one that does. I tried clicking on it, but there was no result. Also, since I can't read the study and don't know its accuracy and context, I can't make any comments on it. There are just too many questions that need to be answered first. But, Haaretz is known to be a far left-wing paper. Many of their sources for similar studied and stories have been researched and found to contain many statistical and factual flaws. So, I would really need to see the study before anything else could be said. Of course, off the bat, it looks really bad, but it's only after looking at it closely that we can gain a better picture. Also, I'm sure that it has been done, but have you looked at studies concerning Arab racism toward

Anon, you are absolutely correct in your assessment. This situation does NOT exist within a vacuum, and all of these polls and statistics really need to be looked at closely before they can really be quantified.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is where your ignorance comes in!! are you aware that not all israelis are jews?????

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we're all well aware that 20% of the Israeli population is Arab, spread among Christian and Muslim and Bahai and Druse, Bedouin,etc. We are also aware the university professors, doctors, scientists, jurists and politicians come from the Arab sector. We are also aware that one of the judges of the Israel Supreme Court is Arab. So what's your point? Unless it is that despite the fears and prejudices of Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs get the same voting rights, the same social benefits, same schooling and job opportunities as Jews, unlike any other Middle Eastern country which closes Jews out entirely.

That's not to whitewash discrimination--but it isn't discrimination against Arabs only--it is discrimination of lighter skinned people against darker skinned people, so you find Ashkenazi Jews discriminating against Yeminite Jews, just as you find Circassians discriminating against Bedouin. And skin-color-discrimination is a battle we fight all over the globe--it's not an Israeli problem, in case you hadn't noticed.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Moses said...

People would put me in a loony bin if I suggested the American constitution should have in its preamble that the US is a white Christian state, that the government should have separate offices for black affairs and the black villages.

What amazes me is the number of Americans who emigrate to Israel because they prefer living in an apartheid state.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

What amazes me is that people throw around these emtionally charged phrases like "apartheid" and "colonialist" and have absolutely no idea what they actually mean.

P.S. anon (5:22 PM), I sense your sarcasm. Very nice. I have stated more than twice on the fact that more than 20% of the Israeli population is NOT Jewish. But, thanks for pointing it out again. You have cured me of my ignorance. I didn't know this fact. Thank you.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Olah Chadasha said...

Oh yeah, throwing out statements like that are also a nice attempt to use the bait and switch ploy. You didn't answer any of my questions and tried to change the subject using "apartheid" claims. Nice try.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After 5 years travelling NA as a hippie I have realised that there is no colour, there is no religion that is right. We are all on this world to co-excist. The Bible says that "God is all forgiving". The Qu'ran has the same quote. WTF is the problem?
Isreal is compounding the problem by using Zionism as their argument.
Zionism is the radical view of Judaeism. Just like Bush using Christianism as his reason for attacking Iraq.
Keep lying and attacking everyone and soon everyone will believe you.
Keep using anon and you will be just another person who is afraid to reveal their identity because of who you really are. Another Zionist.
The Palestinians are the Jews of this century. With a twist. The Zionists are doing the persecuting.

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy do you have a twisted view of my views. You say anything to make your views.
All I said was in the 60ties we viewed the actual truth was elusive. You are trying to bend the truth in your way. You are trying to defend the Israeli view of point.
The Palestinian view of point doesn't excist in your vocabulary.
Judaeism is not the problem. Islam is not the problem.
Zionism is the problem. You defend Zionism, but you use it as a crutch. Zionism is the root cause of the problem and you don't even realise it.
Zionism is what will remove Pres. Bush after the next election. And it will probably remove support of your occupation of Palestien in the near future.
An update of my personality- I am a male.

4:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobsy twins,
Don't talk to me if you are going to rehash the same old bullshit. Israel is right.
The Palestinians are wrong.
The news is hidden from us over here.
the news is just onesided. The news I read over on other web sites tells me you might be wrong.
I don't question it others than there is two sides to the story.
You have made me lean over to the other side because you have repeated the zionist side.

5:27 AM  

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