Why a Palestinian Village Is Struggling

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Oct. 21 front-page article "On the Road to Nowhere, Merchants Pay the Toll" omitted vitally important context surrounding the shuttered storefronts in the Palestinian village of Mas-Ha.

For many years, hordes of Israeli shoppers spent their money in Mas-Ha, helping to contribute to a thriving local Palestinian economy. But consumers began to forgo Mas-Ha once it became a staging ground for terrorist acts against innocent Israeli civilians.

On Oct. 2, 2000, an Israeli who came to a garage in Mas-Ha for auto repairs was killed in cold blood.

On Aug. 12, 2003, a Palestinian terrorist entered Israel via Mas-Ha and blew up a supermarket, killing a 43-year-old father.

On July 14, 2004, Palestinian terrorists attempted to smuggle a bomb into Israel hidden in a sofa from one of Mas-Ha's furniture shops.

With Mas-Ha a source for attacks on Israel, it is not surprising that consumers looked elsewhere to shop.

Israel's separation barrier has drastically reduced the number of Palestinian suicide bombings such as the ones originating from Mas-Ha. The article implied that the separation barrier is the primary cause of the economic downturn in Mas-Ha, whereas the barrier was constructed as a defense against constant Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. And that is what's bad for business.

RUSSELL I. ROTHSTEIN

Potomac

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"On the Road to Nowhere, Merchants Pay the Toll" provided a solid account of the impact of Israel's barrier on Palestinian life. But readers who aren't Middle East mavens might come away thinking that the barrier is just another Israeli security measure or that Israel's settlements in the Palestinian West Bank are the enterprising economic outposts of rugged pioneers.

The barrier and the colonies would be much harder to contest had they been built in Israel. But there is no question that they are completely and illegally across the 1967 line on Palestinian land, as was affirmed by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Equally significant, the court called on all states not to support Israel's illegal barrier and its associated regime, a ruling the U.S. government has failed to uphold as it continues to provide billions of dollars in annual aid to Israel.

NADIA HIJAB

Senior Fellow

Institute for Palestine Studies

Washington


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