posted at 7:34 pm on July 20, 2010 by J.E. Dyer
In a startling development worthy of government-funded study, a new shopping mall has apparently been constructed in Gaza – and its numerous stores fully stocked – in less than a month.
Only a month ago, Israel was still in the process of lifting restrictions on the flow of goods into Gaza. Items such as dual-use construction cement remained prohibited until just two weeks ago. In the fortnight since most restrictions were lifted (including those on dual-use items) during the weekend before Benjamin Netanyahu’s 6 July visit to Washington, a new mall has sprung up seemingly overnight in the Gaza Strip.
The mall’s name is “the Gaza Strip Mall,” but it’s not what Americans call a strip mall. It’s a full-blown, multilevel, air-conditioned indoor mall with a variety of stores, a food court, columned and decorated open areas with fountains and entertainment, and a video arcade for the junior set. There is reportedly plenty of parking. Video and photos have captured the thousands of Gazans who showed up for the mall’s grand opening (see here for a good summary; keep scrolling down).
Of course, Israel still prohibits the flow of arms into Gaza, and is maintaining the naval blockade in the sense of not allowing the transport of cargo directly to the Gaza coast. So for anti-Israel activists, it’s not time to do an end-zone dance yet.
Fox News is also raining on the Strip Mall’s parade, reporting that a lot of Gazans can’t afford the mall merchants’ wares. There had to be some reason to build this mall, however, which would lead the analytical reader to deduce that there are some Gazans who aren’t as poor as other Gazans. It seems like an awfully good guess that the less-poor Gazans are pals with Hamas – or are full-fledged members of that touchy organization. Hamas does, after all, rule Gaza.
The thing that’s amazing, though, is just how quickly this seemingly elaborate mall was assembled. I don’t think the world has ever seen anything like it: desperate, impoverished Gaza went from zero to First World-style Shopping Cathedral in less than 30 days. If you didn’t know better, you might almost think some of the construction materials and stock and stuff were sneaked in before Israel started lifting the restrictions in June. I’ve heard one theory that the escalators were smuggled in through the Gaza tunnel network. Of course, it might also be that what Israel’s been saying is true, and non-military goods have been getting into Gaza all along.