Sunday, September 05, 2010


"Its security forces brutally eliminated organized opposition. PA ministries staffed with Hamas-friendly technocrats drew up ten-year programs to shift production and agriculture from servicing export markets to meeting internal needs and achieving self-sufficiency. And despite — if not because of — the departure of Palestine’s traditional donors, Gaza’s government has introduced the measures they long advocated, heavily pruning the government wage bill, enforcing tax collection, and introducing a new system of license payments and levies on fuel and cigarettes entering the tunnels.  Over time, internal stability coupled with the new trade routes triggered an economic rebirth of sorts. The tunnels absorbed about a fifth of the 100,000 workers who had once labored in Israel, and brought in the raw materials and spare parts for factories crippled by Israeli bombardments to restart production. Gaza’s large flour mill is producing two thirds of its pre-siege average of 6,000 tons per day. A plastics factory has even expanded its work force, thanks to inputs arriving from Egypt. The World Bank cites a rate of 29 percent unemployment in Gaza, significantly above the West Bank’s 19 percent. But the figure takes no account of the tunnel enterprise, Gaza’s largest private-sector employer, which the World Bank considers black-market activity despite Hamas’ efforts to formalize the supply lines."