Arnon Grunberg

Dried dates


On the war profiteers - Raja Abdulrahim and Bilal Shbair in NYT:

‘Before the Israel-Hamas war devastated Gaza’s economy, he was a driving instructor. Now, Mr. Hamouda supports his family of eight the only way he can — by reselling some of the food aid they receive every few weeks.

“Once I got four kilos of dried dates and sold a kilo for 8 shekels,” he said, referring to the Israeli currency amounting to roughly $2.
In the seven months since Israel started bombarding Gaza and imposed a siege in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack, the enclave’s economy has been crushed. People have been forced to flee their homes and jobs. Markets, factories and infrastructure have been bombed and flattened. Farmland has been scorched by airstrikes or occupied by Israeli forces.’


‘The majority of Palestinians in Gaza now face poverty on multiple levels, going beyond a lack of income and including limited access to health care, education and housing, according to a recent report from the World Bank, European Union and United Nations. Around 74 percent of people are unemployed, the report said. Before the war, the unemployment rate, while high by many standards, was 45 percent.’


‘“The winner in this battle is the armed one who can get whatever he wants from the aid,” Ms. Abu Eisha said. “Anyone who is not armed or strong enough to fight and push in goes home empty-handed.” The Israeli military said it would “never deliberately target aid convoys and workers.” It added that it would continue to counter threats “while persisting to mitigate harm to civilians.” Without sufficient aid deliveries, residents must turn to the makeshift markets. Goods there can be sold for whatever the sellers choose. Prices often follow the escalations of the conflict.
Sugar was recently being sold in Rafah markets for 7 shekels — less than $2. Then the next day, Hamas fired more than a dozen rockets at Israeli forces near the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Gaza and Israel, leading to its closure. In the hours after, the price went up to 25 shekels. The following day, the price of sugar went down to 20 shekels.’


‘Few A.T.M.s are still operating across Gaza, and those that are functioning are usually crowded by people trying to get their money out. Often, someone armed watches over an A.T.M., charging a fee to use it. Money changers offer people access to their own money in exchange for high commissions.
“I could only get my salary from some people who took a percentage of 17 of the total amount of money,” said Ekrami Osama al-Nims, a father of seven displaced to the south, who is a civil servant.
He tried multiple times to get a bag of flour from aid trucks — despite the risk of being shot by Israeli soldiers, he said — in order to avoid having to buy it from the black market. But he never had any success.
“My salary used to cover us for an entire month of food and other basic needs,” he said. “Now my salary doesn’t even buy half of a bag of flour.”’

Read the article here.

Any war will create war profiteers, and aid often ends up on the black market. This is why aid sooner or later will destroy any economy that existed before the aid was necessary.

This is not an argument against, in many cases it’s better than nothing, but aid almost never works as some people – often people who have never been to a war zone themselves – assume it will work.

Where the reliance on aid begins the failed state comes into being.

Any postwar plan for Gaza (if we will ever see one) must insist on self-reliance and economic prosperity.

discuss on facebook