Friday, June 09, 2006

Humanitarian crisis, part 11

Those poor, poor, poor Gazans. Starving, unemployed, no medicine, no money, an economy in ruins.

Luckily, they can always scrounge money for rockets, ammunition, M-16s and anti-tank rockets!
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s forces and Hamas rivals are expanding their arsenals as a power struggle intensifies, increasing the risk that a showdown could turn bloody, security sources and diplomats said.

New weapons and equipment can be seen on the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, while prices for black market guns and ammunition have soared in a growing arms race despite pledges by both sides to prevent civil war.

Western security officials in the Gaza Strip said members of one of Abbas’s elite bodyguard units had shown them newly issued anti-tank rockets concealed in backpacks.

In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, where Abbas has his headquarters, the guard recently acquired four brand new US-made armoured vehicles worth an estimated $100,000 each.

The government is under a Western financial embargo aimed at forcing Hamas to recognise Israel and renounce violence. But Hamas has been able to smuggle weapons and tens of millions of dollars and euros through the Egyptian border with Gaza, Israeli intelligence sources said.

In Gaza, where it has enough guns, Hamas has been buying up bullets, Palestinian security sources said.

Arms dealers and an Israeli military source said black market bullets were now selling for $1 each - a steep price in areas where up to half the people live on less than $2 per day.

In the West Bank, Hamas has been buying M-16 rifles. Dealers said heavy demand and a lack of supply have sent prices soaring to as much as $13,000 each, up from $5,400 a year ago.

OK, let's do the math: half the people live on less than $2 a day, and an M-16 is $13,000. So the money for an M-16 could have supported 100 Palestinian Arabs for two months.

Nice to know that Hamas cares as much about the people as Fatah did!

(Other "Humanitarian Crisis" articles can be found here.)