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Comment: Gaza's March desperation

To say that the situation in Gaza is regrettable and desperate is an understatement.

The poor country strip in the Eastern Mediterranean has been regrettable and desperate for decades.

I traveled to Gaza many times during the 1990s, my capacity as co-chair of Builders for Peace, a project launched by US Vice-President Al Gore to help boost the Palestinian economy.

My colleagues and I were unprepared for what we found.

Trade Minister Ron Brown, who led one of these delegations, described what he saw as "worse than Soweto".

During the first quarter of his work, Israel worked with a policy described by Sara Roy as "the development of Gaza". [1

9659002] There was no investment in infrastructure, and the local population was reduced to a cheap work pool, which worked either as a day-worker in Israel or poorly paid subcontractors for Israeli exporters.

The poverty of the place was evident, as was congestion. Gaza is one of the densest populated places on earth.

Seventy percent of the Gazaans are refugees living in camps and in a Jabalya camp we saw children walking through a pool of water in a dirt road. [19659002] Since it had not been rain for days we asked about the source of the water and were afraid to learn that it was open sewage.

The best agricultural land of the strip was taken by Israeli settlers.

Palestinians who raised land that remained had difficulty exporting their product unless they worked with Israeli intermediaries, which reduced their ability to make a sustainable profit.

We heard the same complaint from small manufacturers.

Potential US investors in Palestinian companies were offset by restrictions on imports of raw materials and exports of finished products.

A visit to the border revealed difficulties facing tens of thousands of Gazans who relied on labor work in Israel.

Unde r Israeli law that they could not stay overnight in Israel, so had to go home before dawn to reach the border before 6 am hoping to be chosen for a day's work in the field of construction, agricultural or caretaker .

The chosen came home late in the evening to sleep, just to repeat the process the next day.

But subsequent Likud politics, violence and provocation – in combination with Hamas-initiated acts of terrorism – made a bad situation worse.

Ariel Sharon's decision to withdraw from Gaza and his refusal to allow an orderly transfer to the Palestinian Authority paved the way for a possible Hamas takeover.

The resulting was a complete Israeli blockade of Gaza, which created even greater Palestinian devastation.

Three penal Israeli wars in Gaza (2008, 2012 and 2014) left more than 3,800 Palestinians dead, 15,000 injured and an already missing infrastructure even more devastated by intentional Israeli civilization

In all three wars there was clear evidence of Israeli war crimes.

Ninety-five percent of Gaza's water is contaminated and unthinkable.

Most residents only get two to four hours of electricity daily.

Poverty levels have reached extreme levels, as well as unemployment.

To their credit, Gaza's people have initiated a mass of non-violent protests in the last three weeks

The Israelis have responded with overwhelming violence while trying to cover their unconventional behavior with denial and fraud.

They placed 100 snipers on their side of the border and, during the past three weeks, shot and killed 32 Palestinian protesters and injured another 1300.

A recently released video shows a sniper shooting a Palestinian while his co-workers cheered.

The Israeli response was for the press in charge of the video to be punished, not the carpenter who killed an unguarded protest.

Proposals that protests are a Hamas trick are fake and cruel.

I hope the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem and the Palestinians in Lebanon and Jordan will join this "Great Mars".

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