Hila Abdul Wahad, a new graduate in commercial accounting from the Islamic University, was enthusiastic as she window-shopped her way round the eight new stores on the second floor of the shopping mall. "It's great that this is happening in the situation we're in," she said. "We should be proud. It feels that we are outside of Gaza, it's like ... [she paused briefly] ... being in Egypt."That's the entire point! The problem in Gaza has never been available goods - it has been poverty for the many unemployed people, unemployed in a large part because of Hamas policies. Remember the Erez Industrial Zone and what happened to that? Israel kept it open as long as it could until the terror attacks that Hamas performed there became too much. Thousands of employees lost their jobs as a result.
Ms Wahad was among the 3,700 visitors who flocked to Gaza's first shopping mall in the eight hours after its televised grand opening, attended by the Labour Minister in the Hamas de facto government, Abu Osama al-Kurd. The Gaza Mall is small – just two floors, with a supermarket and fast food restaurant at ground level – but air conditioned. It has no lift – as yet – but above the staircase, a screen displays real-time images of shoppers from the closed-circuit security television cameras.
...The mall has electrified the conservative blogosphere, now seething with claims that it makes a mockery of the idea that its residents are suffering from the blockade which Israel imposed on the territory three years ago and last month decided to partially ease.
But in fact the shops are selling much the same wares that have long been available in other stores and at a lower price, an important plus when unemployment has been running above 40 per cent and over 60 percent live below a poverty line of $2 per day.
We seething conservative bloggers, as the Independent condescendingly refers to us, are pointing out that all the "aid" ships that the British newspaper fawns over were based on the same lies that the Independent itself peddled - that Gaza was a large prison camp. Now that the absurdity of that characterization has been destroyed by the Gaza Mall and other quite nice hotels, restaurants and tourist spots that we have discovered and publicized, the Independent refuses to admit its mistakes and instead reframes the discussion to minimize its lies.
The Independent is now moving the goalposts, not willing to admit that the myth of Gaza as a "prison camp" was one that it helped to push and now deriding those who proved that this very newspaper was among the worst purveyors of that very myth.