Perhaps you remember the greenhouses of Gush Katif (the Israeli community in Gaza). Prior to Disengagement nearly 1,000 acres of greenhouses employed 10,000 people - including 5,000 Palestinians - and produced 15% of Israel's agricultural exports, to the tune of $120 million annually.
Perhaps you remember that the Peres Peace Center and James Wolfensohn (then Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement) put together $14 million from Jewish American donors to buy more than 3,000 greenhouses from the Israeli farmers in Gush Katif ...
... and give them to the Palestinians in Gaza. The idea was that these greenhouses could provide a livelihood for 14,000 Palestinians after their Israeli employers "left." According to Wolfensohn's testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time, "The Palestinian Authority [was] unwilling to pay the settlers" for the greenhouses.
As it happened, just a month after the purchase, once the Israelis had "left," looters "made off" with the greenhouses, taking all the irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting. Witnesses noted that "in some instances... police even joined the looters."
Only the cutest little looters got their pictures taken by Dhimmedia.
.... In the nearby Neveh Dekalim settlement, there were no soldiers to stop 29-year-old Samir Al-Najar and his eight-man crew from demolishing a half-acre greenhouse. Al-Najar insisted the land was his family's before Israel occupied it in 1967 and that he was reclaiming it.
"I want to reorganize the land so we're clearing it out for now," Al-Najar said as two workers carried off a stack of tall metal support beams. Asked whether he intended to sell the materials, Al-Najar shook his head. "We'll probably rebuild with them, but I want the greenhouses to be our own, not Jewish ones," he said.
That was then. This is NOW: Gaza's greenhouses become hot property in Egypt
RAFAH, Egypt (Reuters) - As Palestinians trudged across the Rafah border to stock up, Yahya Salama had another mission -- to sell Israeli-style greenhouses in Egypt.
Salama, 30, carted metal bars and poles, and translucent plastic sheeting to sell to Egyptians after Hamas militants blasted open the border last week to ease the Israeli-led blockade of Gaza.
Palestinians with years of experience working in Israeli greenhouses say this equipment was unavailable in Egypt.
"The Egyptian greenhouses aren't as strong and can collapse in the wind ... The material they use to keep the viruses off the plants also isn't as good," Salama told Reuters.
Gazans are busy dismantling greenhouses to sell in Egypt because it had been nearly impossible to export produce recently, he said.
The influx of tens of thousands of Palestinians has boosted the economies of impoverished towns in Egypt's Sinai peninsula in the past week. Egyptian farmers snapped up the greenhouses, eager for sturdier structures and Gazan expertise.
"Of course they are benefiting from us," said Gazan Khaldoun Rabah, 37, pulling a load of greenhouse parts in a tractor down a muddy road on the Egyptian side of the divided border town of Rafah.
He said he had 10 years of experience working with greenhouses in Israel or in Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, from which Israel pulled its troops and settlers in 2005 after 38 years of occupation.
SELLS FOR 11,000 SHEKELS
Gazans said a complete greenhouse could sell for 11,000 shekels ($3,000) in Egypt, the most populous Arab country. Salama said he could buy them for 8,000 to 10,000 shekels inside the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
In Egyptian Rafah, 22-year-old Egyptian Mahmoud Dohair was scouring the border town for greenhouses to bring back to his uncle's 125-acre farm in the Suez Canal town of Ismailia.
"We don't have greenhouses like this here ... These are cheaper and stronger than ours." He said he had bought 11 greenhouses in the past week to grow cucumbers and tomatoes.
Other Palestinians continued to sell scrap metal, brought in from Gaza by trucks, even as border traffic thinned after Egypt choked off the supply of consumer goods to the border area to try to discourage Gazans from crossing.
Egyptian forces were stopping Gaza vehicles from entering Egypt on Thursday.
Salama said he had made eight trips into Egypt since the border with Gaza opened on January 23 to bring in greenhouses which he said Israel had not allowed through the Rafah crossing when it was open. The crossing has been largely sealed since Hamas seized control of Gaza in June....
Ah yes, blame Israel for not allowing something through the border crossing, even though Israel has had no control of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza since the immediate post-Disengagement period. I suppose it would be too much to ask that Dhimmedia remember the border deal brokered by Condi Rice in Nov. 2005. Aaron Klein (WND) wrote shortly afterward, in Feb. 2006:
... some Israeli officials here are questioning her judgment and calling the Gaza border deal she brokered two months ago an "abject failure" that is now threatening the Jewish state's national security.
The deal involved transferring Israel's control at the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to outside countries....
Israeli security officials say a deal Rice brokered in November regarding control of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza is now a growing threat to the Jewish state's security.
"If the border is not secure, the Palestinians would be in a position to create a terror entity in Gaza neighboring Israel, poised and ready to start a war," said an Israeli security official. "Indeed, that seems to be the case."
In November, Rice extended a trip to Jerusalem to push through the Rafah crossing deal, which restricts Israel to monitor the area by camera, calls for a European presence at the border station, and gives the Palestinians some veto power on vehicles and persons entering Gaza.
The American pressure was reportedly crucial in Israel agreeing to the border regulations.
Rafah is one of the largest crossings between the Sinai and the Gaza Strip. It has been the scene of rampant Palestinian weapons smuggling the past few years. Prior to Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August, the Gaza side of the border was entirely controlled by the Israeli Defense Forces.
After Rice's deal was finalized, both Egyptian and Palestinian security forces deployed at the Rafah crossing, and a rotating team of European inspectors was stationed at the border.
New border rules stipulate Israel cannot restrict who leaves Gaza, but it can ask the European monitors to delay for several hours anyone entering the border if Israel provides immediate information indicating an entrant may be a security threat.
But the regulations, which sources close to the deal say were partially devised by Rice, restrict Israel to rely on security cameras at the border and a list of entrants supplied by the Palestinians.
Israeli security officials told WND this week the cameras at the border are not sufficient to identify entrants, and they said the Palestinians have been failing to supply accurate and timely lists of individuals crossing into Gaza.
"There have been many cases of Israel not getting lists at all," said a security official. "Or we get them so near the time of arrival we don't have nearly enough time to ask an entrant to be delayed."
Israeli security officials charged the Palestinians have tampered with the names of entrants, accusing Palestinian border workers of deliberately disguising the personal information of terrorists crossing the border.
"The result," one security officials said, "is that the border between Gaza and Egypt is nonexistent."
Indeed several senior terrorists based in Gaza told WorldNetDaily the past few weeks they were able to cross into the Sinai and back without a problem.
One terror leader said he went to Egypt for "vacation."
Hamas chief Mahmoud al-Zahar's brother, Fadel, entered Gaza through Rafah just day's after Rice's border deal was implemented, reportedly bringing with him 13 other wanted terrorists. Fadel Al-Zahar had been deported by Israel to Lebanon in 1991 after he was accused of orchestrating attacks.
According to security officials, there is information indicating some Palestinian terrorists who crossed into the Sinai last month may have met with local jihad cells there before returning to Gaza.
Both Israeli and Palestinian security sources say the Iran- and Syria-backed Hezbollah terror group maintains a presence in the Sinai desert. Israel says Egypt has had difficulty eliminating al-Qaida cells in Sinai suspected of involvement in recent terror attacks, including the bombings in Sharm el Sheikh in July and Taba last year, which together killed more than 100 people.
"It is time to conclude Rice's Rafah deal is an abject failure," said an official close to the deal.
See also this transcript of Rice's Comments on the Rafah Border Crossing Agreement - JerusalemIsrael, November 15, 2005. You will note in the process that James Wolfensohn, who so brilliantly screwed up with the greenhouses and threw $14 million in American Jewish donations down the poorpalestinian drain, "played a key role" in the border agreement as well. Small world.
Wolfensohn was replaced (as Quartet envoy) by Tony Blair.
You just sold a memoir for $9 million. How were you able to convince your publisher you could write a best seller and make peace in the Middle East simultaneously?
Look, I'm a politician — I can convince a lot of people of a lot of things.
That Tony Blair, he really cracks me up.
If you really want to be sick, watch this video of Palestinian "negotiator" Saeb Erekat on the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer November 28, 2005 ... PBS hailed the "border opening" as an "historic step toward independence for Palestinians in Gaza."
... most importantly is the efforts of Dr. Rice. I believe she made all the difference... I think Dr. Rice has pulled a miracle with these agreements.... the fact that Dr. Rice came and exercised her negotiating skills with us and the Israelis, we had no alternative, both of us, but to go along the way.
One people's miracle is another's catastrophe.
And not for the first time.