Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Strawberry Revolution

The Strawberry Revolution
Gaza City

Jan 30 2006

Hamas is in Power now in the Palestinian Territories, proving for once that the ballot is more powerful than the bullet. The trouble is that Palestinians thought that voting for Hamas, was a good way of sending a protest vote against the old corrupt regime of Fatah, who had ruled for the last forty years and until a year ago under the complete benign cronyism of Arafat.

Last week everyone thought what a good idea it would be to punish the old
Regime, by voting for Hamas. Now five days later after the party and celebrations they have all woken up with the mother of all hangovers or to put it another way a “Hamasover”.

Everyday in Gaza, Militants protest, get bored then protest on another issue, today someone must of woke up and decided that they did not the like Denmark and since Norway is a neighbor of Denmark then they would not like Norway as well (because their flags are similar).

The reason for their anger was because a Danish Newspaper a year ago published a cartoon about the Prophet Mohammad. So up rolled the Militant Gunmen to the European Union offices in Gaza City, presented a letter of protest fired their guns in the air and left, I also think they tried to protest and fire their guns in the air at the Parliament here but were not allowed to today.

What has Denmark and newspaper cartoons got to do with the problems of the Palestinians, nothing. But it has been a cause in the Muslim world in the last few days, so why not make a stand here in Gaza, solidarity etc not to mention a chance to fire your guns in the air.

Now not to be outdone the local farmers also decided to stage a demonstration near the Presidents home here in Gaza City. The Palestinian Authority thought that this would be a good chance to provide a show of force, because the farmers would be unarmed. Unlike the militants from the Fatah Party who have better and more weapons than the Police.

So the Police complete with riot shields and Kalashnikovs (well some Kalashnikovs, they do not have enough for everyone, unlike the Militants where everyone has at least one) Those without a gun get to brandish bamboo sticks and wave them at camera crews, note to Palestinian Authority a very Taliban thing to do – beating people with sticks.

Naturally the loud speaker truck is there playing out Arabic music, which people tell me is very good, however played at Volume 13 through bad speakers on the roof of a mini van only added to the ambience of a demonstration. Yes on Palestinian amplifiers they go up to 13, if 11 is louder than 10 the maximum an amplifier can go too, then 13 is at least two times louder than that.

The farmers here have been totally screwed by the Israelis as the majority of the produce grown here is destined for sale in the markets of Israel. However the only commercial crossing between Israel and Gaza is controlled by Israel. Now the story we were told was that the farmers who had bought the greenhouses after the Israeli disengagement from Gaza had finally gotten there crops ready for export and sale. And now for the big sting Israel has for the last fifteen days closed the crossing claiming that they have Intel that a bomb was going to come out. So all the trucks and produce have been stuck at the crossing and naturally all the produce has rotted.

The farmers wanted to vent their anger at the Authority; by staging a demonstration and since demonstrations here are a national sport. They started to throw punnets of strawberries in the air, hence “Strawberry Revolution”.

Naturally good pictures for Television and Newspapers around the world, but the media also realized that these were very good strawberries and instead of throwing the last four boxes of punnets. The assembled media all gathered around the strawberry throwers and just took the punnets and started to eat the strawberries.

The strawberry revolution had lasted less than five minutes; luckily the armed police with riot shields did not have to do anything. Another farmer turned up with a truck of cut flowers and threw them in the air to express their disgust at the economic and International boarder situation. End result everyone picked up a few nice bunches of carnations for the office and hotel rooms.

A cucumber farmer turned up, but by this time everyone was getting bored and lets face it what are you going to do with a box of cucumbers on the road in Gaza. So a few boxes of cucumbers lay on the road being stepped on, flowers and strawberries yes but cucumbers no.

Walking back to the car I picked up a strawberry and it was probably one of the best I have ever eaten. Ibrahim Hazboun (Our Foxnews Producer) started to laugh as he had just overheard a farmer complaining to the Policeman about the situation of life here, and whom in the Authority they should complain too. The Policeman dead faced with a grin said the authority was no longer in power go complain to Hamas they are the government now.

So perhaps the strawberry revolution is not over just yet, and Hamas now have to show the rest of the world they have the political ability to handle the Strawberry Revolutionaries of Gaza.
A sad post note though about the plight of farmers here. You can buy 5 kilos (close to 12 lbs) of the best strawberries in the world for two dollars, In fact in most cases they will just give them away

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