I saw Gaza on my first visit to Israel in 1968. It was created in the same year as the UN created Israel: 1948. It was supposed to be a temporary camp for Palestinians displaced by the new Israeli state. Its inhabitants were supposed to be able to return to new plots of land inside Israel or accept a living space in the lands of their surrounding Arab “brothers.” (This was 19 years before the 1967 war.) Alas, the “brothers” did precious little. Gaza had better propaganda value as a festering sore of human misery to be waved before the world. It soon became a sewage-smelling slum.
But aid did pour in; billions of it, enough to make that tiny plot a mini Garden of Eden, a prosperous, healthy, thriving enclave beside the blue Mediterranean south of Ashkelon. Fifty years later, it was still a sewage-smelling slum, wreathed in chaos. What happened to all the money? Well, the Palestinian leadership embezzled half of it; the rest went on guns, bullets, and explosives.