Exactly what is Hamas’ vision for Gaza? Is it the same as the vision of the Palestinian people who call Gaza home?
Here’s an observation rarely noted in all the back-and-forth about the Hamas-Israel conflict: as (part of) the land of the Palestinians, Gaza abounds with potential for development.
If only the goal of Hamas were the building of a prosperous nation rather than the elimination of Israel.
The potential for development in Gaza is immense
While Gaza is a small belt of land, its potential is immense. Of course Gaza is one part of the larger Palestinian homeland. But let’s contrast the state of development in the Gaza strip with the development of another small nation, one with fewer natural resources than Gaza.
Many people argue that one of Gaza’s major problems is population density: her 1,428,757 people share 147 square miles of land. That’s 9,719 people per square mile.
But another small country with twice the population density and none of the natural resources is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Singapore’s 4,492,150 people are crowded onto 241 square miles of Pacific island, a population density of 18,645 people per square mile. Singapore has the second highest population density in the world!
There’s more: 50 years ago Singapore was one of the poorest countries in Asia. You could think of Singapore then as the Gaza of Asia. Yet today it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. (For more of the Singapore story, go here.)
Gaza’s economic potential is tremendous. Her people are capable. They have shown great ingenuity. Gaza has reserves of both oil and natural gas, while Singapore has virtually no natural resources. Yet Singapore’s per capita GDP in 2013 was $55,182 (ahead of both the USA at $53,143 and Israel at $36,161). In Gaza, the current annual per capita GDP is $1,600.
When Israel pulled out of the Gaza strip in 2005, it left the people of Gaza with agricultural and other infrastructure. International aid and good will from around the world began to pour in.
This largesse left Hamas with a decision to make. They could lead in building a new nation or work to destroy another nation. The entrepreneurial Palestinians could have taken the infrastructure left by the Israelis … plus their oil and natural gas … plus their farm land … plus their beautiful Mediterranean coast and built a thriving Palestine. Consider, for example, the potential tourism.
Tragically, Hamas chose instead to apply its foreign aid to the furtherance of its charter: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.” In the process, it destroyed the infrastructure left by the Israelis. It diverted the international aid intended for development to preparing for war with Israel. Cement and reinforcing steel meant to build houses and hospitals was used instead to build tunnels to invade Israel. It is estimated that the 32 tunnels discovered so far cost about $2 M each. That is $64 M not used to help the Palestinian people. Monies that could be used to build infrastructure and provide capital for business was diverted to build or buy 10,000 missiles.
Our hearts ache for the Palestinians in Gaza
Our hearts should ache for the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Their suffering is beyond imagination. But they suffer because their leaders are more concerned with destroying Israel than with building their nation. They are more interested in building tunnels to invade Israel than meeting the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.
Dennis Ross, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote:
At some point, Hamas will stop firing rockets — if for no other reason than its arsenal is depleted. For the people of Gaza, however, the price has been staggering. But Hamas’s leaders have never been concerned about that. For them, Palestinians’ pain and suffering are tools to exploit, not conditions to end.
While the Palestinians have suffered greatly in this latest war, they played a consenting role. They elected Hamas leaders, and they tolerated Hamas villainies. Palestinians had to see what was happening all around them. Many must have known that hospitals, schools, and mosques were being used as storage depots for missiles and mortars, as command centers for the military wing of Hamas, and as tunnel entrances for the invasion of Israel. The people’s silence may imply support for the Hamas tactics. Or perhaps they fear what Hamas might do to them if they protested.
The people of Gaza have a choice: they can live free and create a beautiful and thriving nation on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, or they can follow Hamas and live in fear, poverty, and slavery. Freedom for the Palestinian people must begin in their hearts before it is established in their circumstances.
– Darrow Miller
NOTE: We rarely solicit funds at Darrow Miller and Friends. However, if you have been moved by the plight of ethnic cleansing among Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq, and want a way to help, here are a couple of worthy avenues. My friends, Dr. George Grant and Dave Dillard, have been working in northern Iraq for some 15 years and have contacts with the church in Kurdistan. If you would like to help, see the links below. These will provide you, or your church, a way to get resources to those who are suffering. Please pass this information on to your friends. And please pray.