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Gaza Reality
By Ramah Kudaimi

Response To Chicago Tribune's "Clinging to Gaza"

A grim picture of a Gaza settler’s life emerges from the editorial “Clinging to Gaza,” (Aug. 17) a picture that is not entirely accurate. The article offers a wrongful depiction of settlers living among animals just waiting to attack. It tries to evoke strong emotion towards the settlers by claiming their children have been killed and that they live between “barbed wire and thick cement-block walls.” Unfortunately these journalists fail to mention that in reality the settlers have been leading privileged lives when compared to the lives of the 1.4 Palestinians living there, which includes over half a million living in refugee camps.

In January 2005, Peter Hansen, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), called the situation in Gaza horrendous. “If you wanted to go into Gaza today you wouldn’t be able to because there are tanks along the main road to Gaza. All along the road you will see houses that have been bulldozed. As you move down through Gaza the situation gets even worse,” Hansen said. “Everybody there hopes that this conflict can end so not only their suffering can end but the deprivation of a dignified human life after decades.”

On the other hand, according to human rights activist Hanan Ashrawi, the Gaza settlers (which made up less than one percent of the total population) controlled 60 percent of the water and 40 percent of all land. Palestinians living in their own villages have had to deal with Israeli soldiers limiting their movement through check points, while Israel had built bypass roads (off-limits to Palestinians) to link settlements to Israel. Since September 2000, over 1200 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including 344 children. Compare that to 27 Israeli civilians losing their lives in the conflict.

And it is the settlers who chose to live with barbed wire and cement walls so as to not have to face what really lies outside their settlements. The answer to why these settlers want to continue living in Gaza is clear to anyone after getting both sides of the story. These entitled settlers are giving up a life in a land that not few but many would call paradise. It is a shame that a paper that claims to follow the ethics of journalism can provide its readers with such a one-sided view of the situation.

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