It Stinks to High Heaven in Gaza

The following article from the Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung describes the desperate, fetid circumstances into which the Gaza Strip has recently sunk, and investigates the complex reasons behind the current situation.

JLH, who translated the piece, includes this note:

Here is a Schweizer look at the innards of the “Palestinian Question” — a clue of how more-than-byzantine life and politics in Arab-dominated North Africa can be. It is also a glance into the psychology of the Europe which lately almost uniformly condemns Israel in its contentions with the Palestinians.

I love the last few sentences. How much did Western Europe sympathize with the plight of the Serbian people when American air power was blowing them up? They were the enemy, weren’t they?

The translated article:

Power struggle in Palestine

It Stinks to High Heaven in Gaza

by Ulrich Schmid
July 27, 2017

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, wants to bring Hamas to its knees. That is why he is allowing the residents of Gaza to suffer. The sewage treatment plants have stopped working, because there is no longer enough electricity. Israel is doing nothing to prevent that.

It stinks to high heaven. Truly infernal steam clouds rise from the ocean at Gaza. Children hold their noses. Adults hold handkerchiefs to their faces. Anyone who can, hastily leaves the area of the stench. Fishermen stare sullenly into the sloshing green-gray that forbids the casting of nets. Until now, the sea was the only escape for the caged Gazans — the only place that spoke of freedom and the wide-open spaces. Now that is gone too. Gaza the prison has become definitively unbearable.

It stinks because six of the nine pumps that move sewage into the treatment plants in Gaza city, are out of order. So now that brew is being directed into the ocean, where it lends the water a poisonous, grey-green tinge, which turns up as far as the Israeli beach of Zikim, now closed by the government because of “fecal” contamination. Yet more and more people in Gaza are going swimming.

Abbas is Making Use of Weakness

The Gaza sewage treatment plants are out of service because there is not enough electricity any more. And there is not enough electricity, because Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to bring Hamas to its knees. He wants to do that now because he has concluded that his enemies in Gaza have never been so weak. So he has cut the salaries of the officials in Gaza and asked Israel to cut electricity by 40%, since Hamas is not paying the bills. Israel complied.

So who is responsible for this misery? For Israel’s critics around the world, it is the government in Jerusalem, which from the perspective of the UN General Assembly, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and of many other human rights organization, has occupied the Gaza Strip and is therefore bound by the obligations laid on occupying powers by the Hague Convention. Thus, a general responsibility for the security and welfare of the civilian population is postulated. For its part, Israel points out that it has withdrawn its armed forces, exercises no authority over the area or its institutions and is therefore not an occupying power. For Hamas, the primary guilt lies with Israel, secondary with Abbas. If you ask the residents, the responsible parties named often are Abbas and Hamas — Israel only seldom. The citizens of the Gaza Strip are hopping mad at their Islamic regents. In the winter, also because of the electricity, it came to the biggest demonstration since 2006.

Meanwhile, the situation has become untenable. Not since the war of 2014 has the Strip been such a mess. In the streets between bombed-out and half reconstructed buildings, refuse piles up and is no longer removed. In this picture of misery, there are bright spots such as well-cooled restaurants complete with sushi and green tea, or flower shops with a colorful, well-watered selection. This does not testify that “it’s not half bad here,” as is often said, but simply to the spirit of improvisation and bravery of the residents.

The actual provocateur is Abbas. The Palestinian head controls an important switch point. Because Israel does not officially deal with Hamas, the autonomous authority in Ramallah is middleman. It pays the salaries of the idle officials in Gaza, the bills for electricity, water and fuel, as well as medications that go to the hospitals in Gaza. But now Abbas has pulled out the thumb-screws. In early summer, he demanded that Hamas surrender governance of Gaza to him. The scornful refusal gave him the desired excuse to drive the crisis to its high point. In the hope that the population would rise up against its oppressors. This expectation was not exactly crazy. The weak are often bitten.

Water From the Cistern Wagon

But Gaza’s harassed subjects did not do Abbas that favor. They are too tired, beaten down, occupied with simply trying to survive. For Maher Salem, they are “heroes.” The General Director of Water and Sewage Management in Gaza city has maintained a happy disposition, despite the continuing misery. “That’s my way of dealing with the pressure.” He has the numbers at hand, even though he emphasizes that they change daily. On the average, residents get 19 hours of electricity a day. Instead of the previous 120 megawatts, Israel is now supplying 70 megawatts, as Abbas asked, and therefore reducing the amount of electricity. This embitters Maher Salem: “Abbas doesn’t usually have Netanyahu eating out of his hand. But now Netanyahu is doing as he is told. What a disgrace!” The only power plant in Gaza gets hardly any diesel and delivers only 50% of what is needed. Gaza’s groundwater is contaminated by chemicals and sewage. For months, Zahra Mustafa, a housewife from Khan Yunis, has been walking two kilometers to the mobile cistern wagon and rolling her 20-liter canister home on a wobbly cart. The Mustafas cannot afford plastic bottles of water. Water from the tap is greasy and salty. They use it for showering and for their plants. They won’t even make their donkey drink it.

The groundwater yields about 50 million cubic meters annually, and the need in the Gaza Strip is for at least 200 million cubic meters. So water must bought from Israel. Mekorot, Israel’s water company, pumps five million cubic meters to Gaza annually. Maher Salem would consider fifteen million cubic meters about right. There are three desalinization plants. Two of them work well, but not without electricity. So when those people in need hear that Jerusalem has just concluded an agreement with Ramallah for delivery of water, they are bitter. West Jordan [the West Bank] is to receive 22 million cubic meters and Gaza 10 million. In and of itself, this is good news. But it could be years before it reaches that point.

Hamas is Giving Itself a New Look

Hamas is aware that this is for all the marbles. It is taking countermeasures. In the spring, it presented its new charter — an attempt to strip away its image as a terrorist organization and show itself as a resistance group. The Two-State Solution is implicitly welcomed and the PLO recognized as the legitimate representative of Palestinians. Most important, though, is the distancing from the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s mother organization. This constitutes a direct approach to Egypt, whose President Abdel Fatteh al-Sisi is hounding the Brotherhood mercilessly.

The reason for the change, of course — Hama’s isolation had simply become too oppressive. Not one Arab statesman protested when Donald Trump equated Hamas with the terrorist militia ISIS. Then, when even Qatar found itself in Riyadh’s crosshairs, the alarms sounded in Gaza. From that point on, for Hamas, it was about its very survival.

And lo and behold — Cairo showed interest. We are sitting with Mahmoud al-Airami, vice director of the University of Palestine in Gaza. Airami has seen much of the world. He studied in Simferopol[1], “fought side-by-side with Yasser Arafat,” his respected role model. He takes the title “general” and appears to have an intimate acquaintance with the renewed approach to Egypt. Big things are happening, says Airami. He had just been with a four-person Hamas delegation led by Prime Minister Yahya Sinwar, in Cairo. It had been agreed “to make every effort” to open the border at Rafah again, for 24 hours every weekday. Egypt is willing to deliver diesel. Trade should flourish.

Airami never tires of singing the praises of Yahya Sinwar. Yet if Hamas really succeeds in breaking out of its isolation, the credit is due not to the head of government, but to one of the flamboyant figures of the Palestinian political scene. Mohammed Dahlan is the real door-opener for Hamas in Cairo. At first, that seems absurd. Dahlan is a Fatah man, who ruled with an iron hand in Gaza in the 1990s. Hamas accused him of torturing their fighters.

Settling a Blood Debt

After Dahlan’s people were defeated by Hamas in the “Battle of Gaza” in 2007, he fled to West Jordan [the West Bank], where he also rapidly found himself in disfavor, and was accused of having poisoned Yasser Arafat. He finally found refuge in Dubai. He lives there now as a rich man with many enterprises, not the least of which is the weapons trade. He is acquainted with al-Sisi and the heads of the Egyptian secret service. As youths, he and Prime Minister Sinwar played together in the refugee camp Khan Yunis. Hamas intends to profit from Dahlan’s contacts. That’s only right and proper, an official tells us. Dahlan, “the Torturer” has an enormous blood debt to settle. On Thursday, Hamas allowed the most incredible demonstration since 2007: In the middle of Gaza city, ca. 2,000 followers of Dahlan celebrated their idol, raised portraits high and showed posters saying “Thank you, Dahlan.” And aid packets from the Emirates for which Dahlan had paid two million dollars were passed out.

The affair is clear to the analyst Reham Owda, who lives in Gaza. The most diverse interests are converging here very nicely. Hamas wants to escape its isolation. Dahlan wants a comeback, wants to be “the savior of Gaza” and become president of Palestine. Egypt, which is fighting ISIS terrorism in the Sinai, is hoping to bind Hamas with a security agreement. For a long time, Egypt has accused Hamas of supporting ISIS. There is no more talk of that now. Cairo and Abu Dhabi have an interest in loosening the tight bonds between Qatar and Hamas. Israel is following the development with interest. There is no uniform vision. If Hamas can save itself, that would be bad for some, because they hate Hamas; for others it would be acceptable, because they see Hamas as a force for order, without which, Gaza would descend into chaos, and that would have unpleasant consequences for Israel. What is difficult to understand is why Jerusalem does so little to alleviate the misery in Gaza. Courageous humanitarian actions could be mounted. Cutting down the electricity to the miserable people as well, and exposing oneself to the reproach of the world is not comprehensible. Israel must of course maintain an equilibrium between help for Gaza and its own security demands.

Vouchsafing the harassed people a minimum of human dignity, even if temporary, neither endangers Israel’s security nor strengthens Hamas. It is embarrassing to hear Yiftach Ron Tal, head of the Israeli electricity company, squirm when he explains the situation. It seems the government of President Benjamin Netanyahu is more set on the cultivation of the inter-Palestinian dispute than on the well-being of the people in Gaza. And no one cares about world opinion. Not a good sign.


1. Capital city of Crimea.

19 thoughts on “It Stinks to High Heaven in Gaza

  1. So strange that the writer prefers to blame Israel rather than Abbas–who requested the shortages– for the misery in Gaza. He acts as if Abbas is an irresponsible child–and not responsible for his actions– and Israel is the adult who has to bear all the responsibility for any problem in the Muslim world adjacent to Israel. No matter what.

    Even though Hamas has said, publicly, that it is good that Jews are gathering in Israel because it will save Muslims the trouble of hunting them down to kill them in other parts of the world. And even though Gazans elected Hamas after that statement, so Gazans are presumably in agreement with it.

    Schmid’s attitude is typical of the multi-culti leftists–in their “minds,” it is NEVER the fault of the Muslims but always the fault of Israel.

    • p.s. And all you Israel bashers out there, do note that it is only these measures–instituted by Abbas with Israel’s going along with them–which are making Hamas more “reasonable”–for the present at least.

      Although perhaps only for the present.
      Can the tiger change its stripes? That’s difficult when said stripes are the foundational texts, beliefs, customs and history of Islam.

      • I find that in my own thinking I cannot forgive that all governments in Western Europe so routinely condemn Israel for any conflict, any negative outcome. They simply don’t have the courage to place the blame on its logical source. This is nothing but blatant antisemitism. I always come back to that.

        Europe’s multi-culti atheist leftists are virulent antisemites pure and simple. They think this will calm the Islamists that threaten them in their own countries. And that leads me to think Europe deserves, utterly 100% deserves, the turmoil and rivers of blood that is coming its way. They bully Israel the way cowards always do, just to save their own skin.

        How can a civilization thus reduced possibly survive? Even so, it’s still not too late. If the anti-democratic, immoral, cowardly regimes of Western Europe recanted and began treating Israel as it deserves, I don’t doubt that Israel would welcome it and respond in kind. But I know too that cowards don’t easily acquire the courage to do the right thing.

        In this way Israel is the canary in the coalmine for me personally. Europe will only deserve to survive, and have the chance to do, when their repulsive and virulent antisemitism is forsworn.

  2. At least they don’t have to smell each other. Imagine what a soul of Satan smells like.

  3. Another can’t see the forest for the trees article that ends up blaming Israel for the plight of a People whose DREAM is to kill the Jews.

  4. “Courageous humanitarian actions could be mounted.” ” exposing oneself to the reproach of the world is not comprehensible.”

    LOL, as if such humanitarian actions would even be noticed by ‘the world’. Considering the endless criticism of Israel, whatever it does, it may as well save the electricity or sell to to better customers!

    • Israel lends medical assistance to natural-disaster stricken Haiti … and gets accused of organ harvesting (with no evidence whatsoever, natch)! Which became a much bigger and longer lasting story than the assistance kindly rendered.

    • Courageous humanitarian actions have been mounted by Israel, after the tsunami in SE Asia, the earthquake in Haiti, Ebola in Africa, the earthquake in Nepal… has the world noticed, or given them credit?

  5. We cannot smell it in Sderot – yet, and the missiles have all but ceased, we are currently getting them at about 2 weekly intervals. We, the Israeli tax payers, are, of course, expected to donate this electricity to our would-be murderers, free of charge, because we are, well, we are jooz and different standards apply to jooz.

    Gaza has a huge potential, it has some of the best beaches and weather in the whole of the Med. and before the Jooz were ethnically cleansed from Gaza, the agriculture was very profitable, but no, it is more important to wage war on (all) jooz and keep the people (but not the leaders, the leaders get all the electricity they need) in squalor.

    If Gaza is a prison, then it is a prison because Hamas is a ‘pit bull’ organization that has to be kept chained to its kennel for reasons of public safety. Hamas (and the PA) choose to lie, cheat and steal in line with the edicts of the koran; the leaders play their dirty little power games and the people suffer.

    So the world blames Israel, and the missiles still come over and the terror tunnels get extended daily (a big un-thank-you to Norway and its ‘peace’ hypocrisy for this), Israeli families are knifed to death in their homes and Israel alone must play the adult because Muslims, and especially the Palestinians, must be allowed to play the spoilt brat every time.

    Palestine exports its terror to the world, the hijackings, the bombings, the rammings and the knifings all started by Palestinians against jooz and exported to a place near you.

  6. Let them live in the foul nest they have created. When disease starts to hit, they will migrate again and the cycle will repeat. The desire for a sixth century existence will keep them miserable forever.

  7. It Stinks to High Heaven in Gaza

    [Nelson Munz]

    Haw, haw!

    [/Nelson Munz]

    I double dawg dare anyone to find a functioning link to video coverage of the Um-An Nasir “sewage tsunami” that happened back in 2007.

    This footage was readily available just a few years ago but is now completely expunged from Google. Welcome to revisionist history, courtesy of the Liberal 1%.

    Please, anyone who can recover video clips of Gaza drowning in its own slough of despond (as in using donated sewage piping to build qassam rockets instead of constructing waste-disposal infrastructure) will have my eternal and well publicized thanks.

  8. “What is difficult to understand is why Jerusalem does so little to alleviate the misery in Gaza. Courageous humanitarian actions could be mounted. Cutting down the electricity to the miserable people as well, and exposing oneself to the reproach of the world is not comprehensible.”

    It is not difficult to understand at all: Gazans are ruled by a regime that proclaims a desire to exterminate all Jews in the world. And Gazans are by and large very supportive of that goal. Why on earth would Israel care about such people? Why would the Israelis help sustain Hamastan in any way?

    Cute that the author settles the blame on Israel for something sought by Hamas’ enemy: Abbas’ PA. Is Israel meant to antagonize Abbas and give the Gazans free electricity? Evidently, yes.

    Egypt could run electricity to Gaza. Qatar could pay for a power station and the running of it in Gaza for decades by simply cutting back a little on its purchases of fine art for a month.

  9. Can’t they pay for electricity with all those state of the art greenhouses that Israel left in Gaza when they handed it over?

  10. Gaza has one of the highest birthrates on the planet due to its open weaponization of procreation and blank-check UN ‘humanitarian’ funding via the UNRWA. The population of Gaza is exploding, and Israel is expected to make huge investments expanding utility infrastructure to service the rapid population increase. This is not happening because the people of Gaza started two hugely expensive wars with Israel via rocket attacks against its cities, and it is hugely expensive to maintain sufficient security to keep the people of Gaza from escaping into Israel to commit terrorism against Israeli civilians. Meanwhile, most funds and material donated to Gaza to rebuild from its wars goes into preparing for the next war with Israel. Forced to choose between security, and expanding the utilities infrastructure for Gaza, the Israelis choose security. But blame Israel anyway. Do not blame the people of Gaza and their political mythology that they are going to invade, annihilate Jews to the last man, woman and child, and occupy a modern, powerful, nation state. If zombie movies did not already exist, they would have their inspiration in Gaza and its people.

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