Palestine Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter, 2006, Excerpts
Let’s take a quick look at Gaza. Its population has soared in recent years as Palestinian refugees have poured in from other areas occupied by Israel. In 1948 there were 90,000 natives, the population more than tripled by 1967, and there are now more than 1.4 million – 3,700 people living within each square kilometer. Gaza has maintained a population growth rate of 4.7 percent annually, one of the highest in the world, so more than half its people are less than fifteen years old.
They are being strangled since the Israeli “withdrawal,” surrounded by a separation barrier that is penetrated only by Israeli controlled checkpoints, with just a single opening [for personnel only] into Egypt’s Sinai as their access to the outside world. There have been no moves by Israel to permit transportation by sea or by air, Fishermen are not permitted to leave the harbor, workers are prevented from going to outside jobs, the import or export of food and other goods is severely restricted and often cut off completely, and the police, teachers, nurses, and social workers are deprived of salaries. Per capita income has decreased 40 percent during the last three years, and the poverty rate has reached 70 percent.
Israel has taken control of the consumer and production sectors of the area’s economy, making it an exclusive market for many Israeli products even among the local Palestinian citizens, who could not sell their own products in Israel, Jordan, or other places. Their economic system has been forced back into the preindustrial age and their territory broken into ever-smaller fragments, leaving a tiny and nonviable economic and political entity, circumscribed and isolated, with no dependable access to the air, sea, or even other Palestinians.
UN Alarm at Palestinian Poverty
22 Feb 2007
The UN study, carried out by the World Food Program (WFP), talks of a "marked decline" in living standards. It says that by the end of last year more than 80% of Gazans and 60% of West Bankers were reducing their daily expenditures. The report warns that rising levels of unemployment and poverty are posing acute challenges to "food security" - a family's ability to provide itself with enough to eat. The study talks of "economic suffocation" and says that Israeli security restrictions in the occupied West Bank and around Gaza are fragmenting the Palestinian economy. Sectors like fishing and farming are being ruined.