Destroying Settler Homes in Gaza

Recently Sanjiva Weerawarana wrote in his blog how awful it was that settler homes in Gaza are being destroyed when the settlers leave. He further accuses anyone who believes the stated reason for the homes' destruction, that the Palestinians have better uses for the land, of being idiots. One wonders what Sanjiva would think of the Palestinian Authority's housing and public works minister Mohammed Shtayyeh who said "If Israel does not destroy settlers' homes, we will destroy them."

Why would Minister Shtayyeh say that? The article the quote comes actually explains things fairly well so I recommend giving it a quick read. As is often the case, the reality is much more complex than appearances would suggest. Life is rarely black and white.

One point that I don't think comes fully out in the article is the issue of size. In his blog article Sanjiva gives the example that when the British left Sri-Lanka they left their buildings standing. But here is the interesting point, today Sri Lanka has a population of roughly 20 million people on around 65,000 sq km of land. Gaza has around 1.4 million people on 360 sq km of land. In other words in Sri Lanka there is roughly 3.25 square meters of land per person while Gaza has roughly 0.26 square meters of land per person. This means that there are 12.5 times as much space per person in Sri Lanka as in Gaza. In fact, the Gaza strip is routinely sited as one of the most densely populated places on Earth.

Given Gaza's population density what makes more sense, leaving a bunch of large, single family homes in some of the most prime beach front land in Gaza to be lived in by a few highly placed officials or tearing them down and building high rise apartment buildings that allow thousands of people to enjoy the area? The real inhumanity isn't destroying these homes, it would be leaving them.

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