Reply to Gaza: land of the trapped
This is the text of a letter I wrote to Kevin Doyle, author of Gaza:land of the trapped, about the printed article. Reply to the video which, at least to my mind contains worse errors, will follow in a new post.
Dear Mr. Doyle,
There doesn’t seem to be a comment facility for your Independent piece on Gaza so I am writing directly to you.
Inevitably there are errors. Gaza doesn’t have the highest unemployment rate in the world. Granted there are counting and definition difficulties but that dishonour belongs to Zimbabwe at 70%, followed by Mozambique, Djibouti, American Samoa (United States), Senegal, Nepal, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lesotho, Kenya and Swaziland all with 40% or greater unemployment.
Nor does Gaza have an exceptionally high infant mortality rate as you imply. Gaza’s population is growing at 2.5X the world average. According to C.I.A. figures the child mortality rate is 16 per 1,000 live births. This is better than 102 other states and territories in the world.
A more serious error is the claim that Hamas don’t use child soldiers for combat. The figures for 500 children (provided by Hamas) includes everyone whose age was less than 18. At least some of these were Hamas fighters killed in action. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center came to this conclusion in the same way it arrived at the civilian casualty ratio by painstakingly comparing the names of casualties as they trickle out with known members of organisations. Those same organisations have slowly been releasing tributes to ‘martyrs’. If a 16 year old prepared photographs of himself in uniform with weapons can he truly be considered a child?
Even when children are not directly involved with fighting Hamas (and indeed all the Palestinian groups) use children — often pre teen — as couriers and lookouts, in the reasonable belief that the IDF avoids targeting children. As Gazan children are indoctrinated from the cradle that killing Jews and perhaps dieing in the process is the highest religious value the lists probably include children who took risks to view and participate in the fighting that an adult wouldn’t.
However there are two errors that turn your piece into propaganda.
Firstly, nowhere do you mention that Egypt also has a border with Gaza and restricts Palestinian movement more than Israel. Indeed you imply by your ‘on one side a 25ft wall and the other the Mediterranean’ remark that Israel controls all borders. Egypt has built a wall for exactly the same reason as Israel.
Even more, although I left it last, you fail to mention that Hamas started this war as it did the two previous and broke cease-fire after cease-fire in the process. Technically Israel and Gaza are still at war. There are penalties for losing wars, particularly those you initiate and what you describe comes under that category.
The solution, however unlikely is for Hamas to initiate peace and, yes, that means surrender. By taking part, whether by omission or commission in the Hamas war of public relations Mr. Doyle you are bring the next war closer rather than further.