The Media's Idea of What It's Like Living in Gaza Is Far From Reality


As the new United States embassy opened in Jerusalem on May 14, Western media focused heavily on the response in Gaza to the event, especially the fact that more than 50 Gazans were killed by IDF forces during a time of riots. Once again, the media are portraying a caricature of the situation in and around the Gaza strip, throwing around exaggerations and falsehoods left and right.

Michael Rubin explains that living in Gaza is far from a third-world horror story. Those residing in the Gaza strip are better off than people in dozens of other countries.

Take, for example, life expectancy at birth. According to the CIA’s World Fact Book, Gazans born today can expect to live 74.2 years. That’s higher than Peru, Iran, Brazil, Jamaica, Ukraine, Russia, India, and more than 90 other countries.

The pattern is more the rule than the exception. Consider infant mortality. In Gaza, it is 16.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. That’s better than Pakistan, Ethiopia, Senegal, India, South Africa, and several dozen other countries.

A commonly referenced fact is the youth unemployment rate in Gaza, which is abysmal. However, they are still more likely to find work that young adults in South Africa, Bosnia, and Greece. More Gazans also have access to the Internet than Lithuanians. Indeed, Rubin notes that if they so desired, Gazans could make their strip of land into another Singapore.

The economy overall is on the decline, but the major factor deciding that is that Hamas funnels more money into rockets and other instruments of terror than resources for residents. In spite of that, consumer price inflation in Gaza is less than in Egypt, Argentina, Turkey, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

These problems are often brought upon not by Israel, but by Gazans themselves (specifically the Hamas-controlled government). Gazans had plenty of opportunity to develop their economy when Israel left the strip, but that opportunity was passed over.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, leaving behind intact infrastructure capable of supporting a number of industries and to employ thousands. Rather than accept Israeli largesse, the Palestinians in Gaza destroyed greenhouses and tens of millions of dollars in other structures. Simultaneously, the international community has donated more to the Palestinians on a per capita basis than to any other people on earth. Palestinians may seek to ascribe current suffering to Israeli actions, but Palestinians have agency and, for more than a decade, have emphasized terror over welfare.

The true story of Gaza is far from what the United Nations and human rights activists claim. Indeed, stats from the World Bank and the U.N.'s tell a different story. What's a better way to help the people in Gaza than making these spurious claims? One could start with pressure to hold Hamas accountable for its choices.