Independent Think Tank: Gaza Humanitarian Crisis Is Fake News

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies is an independent, non-partisan think tank conducting policy-relevant research on Middle Eastern and global strategic affairs. It has just put out a paper characterizing the Gaza humanitarian crisis as fake news.

One of the most widespread myths about Gaza is that it is wallowing in poverty and forever on the verge of a humanitarian crisis as a result of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade. But indicators such as life expectancy, growth in imports, and electricity demand suggest that the Gazan standard of living is rising, not declining. If a genuine humanitarian crisis were to loom, the solution would be simple: disarm Hamas and divert its considerable expenditures on terrorism to the improvement of the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants.

The internet and social media have made the creation, rapid dissemination, and perpetuation of myths a feature of political life. One of the most widespread is the myth that Gaza is wallowing in poverty and forever on the verge of a humanitarian crisis as a result of the Israeli and Egyptian blockade.

There is no shortage of compelling evidence to dispel this myth. Life expectancy, for example, is highly correlated with the good life. Japan, Singapore, and Norway lead the world in life expectancy. The bottom of the list contains countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, for example Bangladesh.

The myth-makers would like you to think Gaza is also towards the bottom of the list, but it isn’t. Quite the opposite, in fact. Gaza’s life expectancy of 74 is above both the world average (68 in 2010) and the average in the Arab states. This means that more than 3.8 billion people are living shorter, and probably harsher, lives than Gazans.

The difference in life expectancy between Gaza and those at the bottom of the list is in fact quite staggering. Life expectancy in Angola, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Cote D’Ivoire, and other countries ranges from 50.1 to 55 years, according to the World Health Organization.

Were Gaza on the list, it would rank 86th out of 189 countries. That would place it alongside Paraguay and Samoa, hardly states that conjure images of abject poverty. But why resort to facts?

Reality check: life expectancy in Gaza has not declined, and the blockade no longer exists. Before the brief curtailment of goods into Gaza from Israel in 2007, 10,400 trucks laden with goods entered Gaza monthly from Israel (these figures are from OCHA, the bitterly anti-Israeli UN agency). In 2016, 14,460 trucks of produce crossed from Israel into Gaza per month, a 34.6% increase from before the imposition of the so-called blockade. This means the purchasing power of Gazans has not declined (taking into account demographic growth).

Even the electricity crisis in Gaza points to a high, and rising, standard of living. The crisis is partly the result of the gap between supply and increasing demand. According to Muhammad Abu Amarayn, the spokesperson of the Gaza Energy Commission, there is a need for 450 MW of electricity – way above the maximum of 280 MW that Israel, a local energy supply station, and Egypt collectively supply.

OCHA estimated peak demand in Gaza in 2010 at 280 MW. This means that if Abu Amarayn is correct, demand for electricity in Gaza has increased by 60% in six years. Economists often use energy demand as a proxy for economic growth in the absence of accurate macroeconomic data, as in the case of Gaza. Increasing demand for electricity suggests prosperity, not a humanitarian crisis.

Read the whole thing.

This certainly gels with the images that come out of Gaza – or at least those coming out when they let down their guards.

And of course, you can see a whole lot more of “concentration camp” Gaza here.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media