EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: It is not Gaza’s economic malaise that has precipitated Palestinian violence. It is the other way around: the endemic violence has caused the Strip’s humanitarian crisis. So long as Gaza continues to be governed by Hamas’s rule of the jungle, no Palestinian civil society, let alone a viable state, can develop.
No cliché has dominated the discourse on the Gaza situation more than the perception of Palestinian violence as a corollary of the Strip’s dire economic condition. No sooner had Hamas and Israel been locked in yet another armed confrontation over the past weeks than the media, foreign policy experts, and politicians throughout the world urged the immediate rehabilitation of Gaza as panacea to its endemic propensity for violence. Even senior members of the Israel Defense Forces opined that a “nonmilitary process” of humanitarian aid could produce a major change in the Gaza situation.
While there is no denying the argument’s widespread appeal, there is also no way around the fact that it is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. For it is not Gaza’s economic malaise that has precipitated Palestinian violence; rather, it is the endemic violence that has caused the Strip’s humanitarian crisis.
For one thing, countless nations and groups in today’s world endure far harsher socioeconomic or political conditions than the Palestinians, yet none has embraced violence and terrorism against their neighbors with such alacrity and on such a massive scale.