The Hippasus Blog

Gaza… surviving inside the tiny box

Posted in Uncategorized by pifactory on January 3, 2009

THE GAZA STRIP sits inside a tiny box some 25 miles long and, for the most part, less than five miles wide. At its widest it is well under eight miles wide.

It is bounded to the west by the Mediterranean’s most miserable beaches. To the south-west is a seven-mile border with Egypt’s Sinai desert. To the east and north it is bounded by barbed wire, concrete, corrugated iron and a 32-mile long border with Israel.

Inside this box live more than 1.4 million people, probably the sixth most densely populated area in the world. Certainly it is the most densely populated area to be surrounded on three sides by barbed wire. Most are descended from refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Almost half the population is 14 or under.

Getting in and out of Gaza is entirely governed by the whims of those who live on the other side of the barbed wire.

This is how it has been for most of the time since 1967 — more than 40 years.

The demographics are deeply depressing, and the numbers are incomprehensible: Just under half the population is unemployed, alarmingly the highest unemployment rate in the world.

More than one in six children below the age of five suffer from malnutrition. More than half women of child-bearing age are anaemic. With at least eight giant refugee camps decades old more than one-in-five are not directly connected to services such as water and sewerage.

It’s hard to imagine. Imagine.

Imagine Gaza was super-imposed on top of New York City. The yellow boxes on the maps to the left show the relative sizes of Gaza and NYC (click on the pictures to see larger versions in new windows).gaza_ny_01

Gaza easily fits in beneath Yonkers to the north, Long Beach to the east and south and Staten Island and Elizabeth to the west.

As I write this some 400 people — including well over two dozen legally-elected public officials — have been bombed to death inside this box. That’s in the past four days. The tragedies of the past 50 years cannot be counted.

Imagine jets repeatedly bombing New York City in the the yellow rectangle to the left.

If you don’t live in New York City… imagine getting in your car (you’re already on an up, no car in Gaza). Drive two miles to the beach. It’s not a beach for sun-bathing or swimming. Gaza fishing boats were machine-gunned off this beach a month ago. Turn round, drive back home and two miles further… to the barbed wire.

Now drive north-east 12 miles. You can’t go any further, even if you want to. Turn round, and take a long leisurely ride for less than half-an-hour to the Egyptian border. You’ve seen Gaza. If you live here, that’s it. This is your world.gaza_ny_02

If you make stuff or grow things that need to be exported, you’re entirely dependent on those who live outside of the yellow box. If you need stuff from outside the yellow box, you’re entirely dependent on those who live outside the yellow box.

There’s one gate to the north, five to the east and one to the south.

Imagine one road into New York City from Yonkers, five from the east, one from Staten Island and nothing from Jersey City, Newark or Inglewood from the west. And it is the people of Yonkers, Long Beach and Staten Island who decide whether or not the gates are open or not.

All other roads are blocked by concrete and barbed wire. And it’s been like this for 40+ years. Population density is like that of Gaza.


Imagine You’re mother or child is ill… you’re inside the yellow box.

Imagine. Your child wants an education, a future, has ambition… you’re inside the yellow box.

Imagine. Your relatives and family live a bare 40 miles away in the occupied West Bank… you live inside the yellow box.

But the people who live outside the yellow box have the right to come inside your yellow box and kill your elected officials, bulldoze your homes, shoot your young people. Imagine.

And the people outside of the yellow box tell everyone else that it’s all your fault, you people who live inside the closed yellow box.

What would you do? Imagine.

As Kafka said, “war is a monumental failure of imagination”.

16 Responses

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  1. Stop-the-war said, on January 4, 2009 at 6:53 am

    This is the best description of the situation I have read so far. I cannot praise you enough for this very accurate depiction of the story. Thank you so much.

  2. Asaf said, on January 4, 2009 at 7:47 am

    now when you already got your imagination working extra on this yellow box metaphor lets go on with it a bit – try to imagine a green box,bigger the yellow one but contains approx. 7 million people. Drive 3-4 hours north and there you get to Lebanon or Syria, now go east you get to Jordan, 4 hours further south we have Egypt and to the west the green box is bordered similar as the yellow box- the sea. but that not all – there is this tiny yellow box in the south-west corner of the green box.yes the same one you have spoke of , now imagine years of non stopping rockets flying from within this yellow box toward the green box and from time to time people leave the yellow box and get into the green one with bombs carried on their bodies with one goal – kill as many as possible from the green box, innocent imagine living in that green box – you’ve seen Israel.Maybe Kafka was right – but if you already imagine ,remember that war doesn’t involve only one side and i beg of you – try to imagine both sides.

  3. marcgott said, on January 4, 2009 at 10:07 am

    The sin of omission is strong here…

    Gaza is bordered by two countries, Israel and Egypt. Egypt won’t let them in either.

    Israel used to let them in more freely; the results were suicide bombers and exploding buses as daily occurrences.

    Why haven’t the billions of dollars poured into Gaza been turned into industry? Natural gas, desalinization, agriproducts… Don’t tell me there’s no space for it; just use the areas that Israel was pulled out of.. It was a $150M+ agri center before the Disengagement.

    What little products they do manage to get past Hamas “customs” officials are welcomed by Israel, when they’re not also transporting bomb belts and other weapons being smuggled into Israel.

    Those “legally elected” officials you go on about were actually involved in a bloody coup in April 2008 to force their peers out, and have consistently called for the destruction of Israel.

    Allowing 6500 rockets to rain down on Israel causing random death and destruction are the fault, through active or tacit acquiescence, of every single person who lives in your yellow box.

    I’m trying to imagine your scenario, but the facts keep getting in the way.

    Kafka also said, “In argument similes are like songs in love; they describe much, but prove nothing.” He was talking about your yellow box.

  4. hej_music said, on January 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Firstly, I apologise for the below: I do not understand the situation in the slightest, but I will try and sum up from my western perspective:

    The people in the yellow box don’t like the people in the green box because they feel trapped, despised and persecuted.
    They fire rockets into and try to get bombs into the green box with the aim (it appears) to say “Hey look at us! Hello!”. The people in the Green box notice and hurt the people in the Yellow box with their larger, but just as indiscriminate sticks. They also will on no account open up relax borders with the Yellow box because they believe it will likely end in more bombs being brought into their Green box.
    By now neither side seems to care about the sanctity of all human life anymore (just their own families). Loving thy neighbour or any of that. Nor sadly do I feel that either side will unless some moderates take charge and start making the people’s lives more tolerable regardless the colour of the box they are in.

    My suggestions to help this conflict:
    – Hamas to step down and ensure that people stop firing rockets into Israel (sorry guys – you’re not helping – go on…be the bigger party in this)
    – Ehud Olmert & co. to step down and ensure that Israel stops killing the people of Gaza (sorry guys – you’re not helping – go on…be the bigger party in this)
    – America to stop picking sides and start offering help & olive branches (to both side)
    – For both sides to stop acting like school kids with high explosives. (he did this. he did that.)
    – For a joint Arabian, Western & Israeli funded project to start getting the Gaza economy…well started. It’s not nice to live on handouts, it doesn’t make you grateful for what someone gives you. A life, like trust. Should be earned and be given the opportunity to be earned.
    – Practical suggestion now: A public transport system to be built in both Gaza & the West Bank. The train system should run under Israeli land & connect the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. As said earlier, ‘trust is earned’, Gaza will not have your three borders opened any time soon. accept this – work for a solution.
    – International monitors need to be in place to help keep the peace.

    There’s more suggestions I could make, but this comment has grown larger than I expected and I have no illusions that anyone will listen anyway.

    I wish every respect to both sides in these horrendous days and can only hope that the future will eventually be a brighter one.

  5. @fellowcreative said, on January 4, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    I don’t live in New York, nor have I visited USA, Gaza, Lebanon or Syria but I feel that Ive just read the most insightful news report ever, it’s concise, tangible, informative whilst enabling me to form my own opinion on what is happening – thank you!
    My ignorance to the cause of this war, combined with this new comprehension of what an overpopulated, under-infrastructured, undernourished, (and capitalists might say needy) place the Gaza strip is leaves me with a big question – are they fighting for it or fighting for their right to disown it? I’m guessing Gaza is some form of tactical defence position on the coast because the only other value to it’s ownership I can currently see is an increased population for a potential political voting. Whatever the reason, my thinking is that neither side is responsible enough to own Gaza unless they have a plan to look after those who live their – and when I say ‘look after’ I don’t mean kill, ignore or unsustain them. My thoughts are with all those in Gaza.
    I’m off to do some more homework on the subject. Thank you for the most tangible, informative and unpolitically-driven news I’ve ever read 😉

  6. Evan said, on January 5, 2009 at 2:31 am

    Imagine. Imagine the time when the Palestinians were free to continue driving past 2 miles into the only country that would accept them, Israel. Imagine. Imagine when those times were cut off due to bombings of coffee shops and constant rocket attacks by Palestinians.

    When the Jews were mass murdered and kicked out of their purchased lands, they didn’t blow children up in pizza stores. They made a life for themselves. Now imagine the Palestinians doing that. Imagine.

    Imagine. Imagine a psuedo faux intellectual blogger posting an article about the 250,000 Chechyns that Russia has killed (using over $20 billion in US aid). Imagine a liberal blogger that knew that fact because he read something other than the NY Times. Imagine. Imagine a blogger that after years of education and self-righteous degrees was content enough to come out and say he doesn’t love humanity but simply hates Jews. For if he loved humanity he’d post something about the far more persecuted Chechyns and the 1.5 million East Timorians who were killed. Imagine. But pretentious bloggers can’t imagine. All they can simply do is rehash the misinformation that their media has brainwashed them with and pretend to not be simpletons. So they write blogs in hopes to fool us all. Imagine.

  7. Asaf said, on January 5, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Well put Evan! could not agree more.

  8. A Jew said, on January 5, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    Imagine the Gov’t of New York City authorizing it’s citizens to lob missiles at Newark continuously and indiscriminately. What do you think New Jersey would do?


  9. G said, on January 6, 2009 at 3:46 am


  10. Do unto others said, on January 6, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Answer is simple.
    Everyone should simply treat everyone else as if they were a loved family member. Then the Hamas wouldn’t want to suicide bomb, Israeli’s would allow free border travel,and all would prosper. BUT INSTEAD, everyone has negative belief systems ingrained since birth. Well, somebody somewhere along the line is wrong……so let’s treat others as loved family members.

  11. Dan said, on January 6, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Hate to be the one who burst that loving warm family bubble of yours but Hamas’s behavior has nothing to do with Israel’s attitude towards them.Their simple goal is to wipe Israel of the map because they believe jews are sinners and so deserve to die it is thought in their schools.They act strictly of belief, they are very religious people and every action they make is driven out of religion causes.So changing attitude will not help.

  12. steve said, on January 6, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Sir, I rush home from work and put Al Jazeera on my PC and watch and pray for them poor children how can people in power sit on there hands and allow the Jews to do this, I’M sorry if I seem angry at Israel but it just don’t seem right imagine if they were USA kids would Bush be as quiet then. Israel can not in anywat justify what there doing acting like animals.

  13. john said, on January 8, 2009 at 12:59 am

    When the Jews were mass murdered and kicked out of their purchased lands, they didn’t blow children up in pizza stores.

    No, they blew up hotels.

  14. Asaf said, on January 8, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Fact – On 2005 Israel has left the Gaza strip
    Fact – One year later on 2006 the people in Gaza has WILLINGLY elected the Hamas as the new government (A recognized terror organization!!)
    Fact – Part of the Hamas agenda is to destroy Israel
    Fact – Israeli citizens, women and children are being killed due to non stopping rocket attacks by the Hamas since the elections took place and still has not responded except for its endless efforts to make peace.
    Fact – Hamas so called “warriors” are hiding like COWARDS between Gaza’s civilians,innocent women and children since the IDF has invaded the Gaza strip.
    Fact – Hamas so called “warriors” are using children as human shields,risking civilians lives intentionally involving them in hiding weapons at civilian houses, schools, hospitals, mosques and other non military facilities.
    if you dont believe e watch this:

    This whole discussion is about imagination,Well these are the imagine how would you act instead of Israel.

    Would you “talk” to the Hamas and ask them nicely to stop killing Israeli children?
    Or maybe you would send the army to Gaza but only the infantry with no backup of tanks and air strike straight into the traps of the Hamas as a suicide mission?

    This almost ungraspable amount of casualties among the gaza residents is painful and is definitely a disaster.But Israel isnt the one who is involving them in the war but HAMAS IS!
    They are the ones who sends their soldiers to fight from within civilians risking their lives deliberately.
    One thing i cannot IMAGINE is how twisted and inhuman a person’s must be for him to use their own children’s lives in order to win a war.

  15. Seth said, on January 12, 2009 at 8:28 am

    can we as jews stop being so self righteous and accept all the facts and not only the ones the controlled media has spoon-fed everybody. israel instigated this most recent event by breaking the cease-fire on Nov 4th. The absolutely unproportionate assault on Gaza is in no way justifiable under any circumstance; israeli lives are not more valuable than palestinian lives. Years of occupation and tyranny will have repurcussions – rocket fire. This assault will also have a devastating repercussion.

  16. mark said, on January 14, 2009 at 1:34 am

    imagine. imagine someone blew up your innocent wife/child. imagine as you beg them not to kill your mother your phone rings telling you they did . now imagine the world telling you not to react. i imagined. i would react. what would you do?

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