Gaza's borders are closed and its economy in shambles, but the glittering alleys of the territory's centuries-old gold bazaar are packed with young brides to be.
The market has experienced an unlikely renaissance in recent years as Gaza's Hamas rulers have championed weddings and Israeli closures have crippled the local economy, making gold an attractive investment.
"Not only have we not been hurt by the Israeli blockade, but our business has actually gotten better," gold merchant Iyad Basal says as people cram into his crowded family-run shop.
"We have not stopped working since the blockade because the gold comes to us through smuggling and Hamas encourages marriage," he adds.
Israel and Egypt have largely sealed Gaza's borders since Hamas seized power in June 2007, but some merchants have survived and even thrived by importing products through smuggling tunnels beneath the Egyptian border.
Others have jewelry brought in through the Erez pedestrian crossing with Israel, which is usually open to foreign journalists, aid workers and Palestinians with special permits.
Hamas has encouraged marriage by holding mass weddings, running a matchmaker service for war widows and other poor girls and giving financial support to thousands of young men hoping to settle down.
Hassan al-Juju, a judge in the Islamic family courts run by the group, says the rate of marriage in 2009 was higher than any year in the last decade.
Zvi points out:
Starving populations do not import and purchase large quantities of gold. All around the world and throughout history, starving populations have sold what jewelry they owned to food traders in exchange for food to feed their kids. People who are seriously worried about starving in the future import and hoard large quantities of canned goods and staple foods. They don't import gold, which cannot be eaten.
For an example of a normal response, consider the Warsaw Ghetto. The Nazis issued the Jews ration books that allowed them only 200 Cal/day, which is a starvation diet. Jews who had a silver bracelet or a gold ring used it as currency to obtain extra food from outside the ghetto, or (if they could scrape together enough) to pay smugglers to hide their kids on the Christian side of the wall, where they were safer. Jewelry was rapidly flowing OUT, from the moment when the ghetto was reestablished until the Nazis liquidated the population.
Gaza is importing gold through its smuggling tunnels. Gold is an expensive luxury, purchased with disposable income.
The spokespeople of the Destroy Israel Movement frequently claim that Gaza is "worse than the Warsaw Ghetto." They claim that Israel is starving Gaza. They claim that this is why Gazan terrorists murder civilians across the border in Israel. Three things are clearly true:
1. The spokespeople of the Destroy Israel Movement don't understand the situation in Gaza at all.
2. They don't understand the Warsaw Ghetto at all, and don't want to.
3. They are happy to spout absolute ignorant nonsense as long as it's anti-Semitic ignorant nonsense.