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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Visit Gaza City! You paid for it!

Would you visit Gaza City as a tourist?

A Gaza City university is betting that you would if you could, and it has produced a 'tourist map' of all the Gaza City sites. Of course, the article that introduces the map is one of the most biased pieces I have ever seen coming out of Gaza. Until the last two paragraphs, the article makes it sound like the only reason there is no tourism in Gaza is because of the 'Israeli blockade.'

Maliha denied that foreigners feared Gaza for internal reasons, although they certainly had good reason to. In April, Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni was abducted in Gaza and brutally executed by an extremist Islamic group. In March 2007, BBC correspondent Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza by the Army of Islam, another extremist group, and held in captivity for nearly four months.

Tourism sites have also been targeted by local fundamentalists. The Crazy Water Park, opened on May 2010 to serve Gaza's upper class, was burned to the ground four months later. The park had been shut down by the Hamas government in August because it allowed men and women to mix.
Gee, maybe that's why a lot of tourists aren't particularly excited about visiting Gaza.

By the way, one of the funniest parts is the explanation of why this 'tourist map'
was produced.
The map, which debuted this week, is the brainchild of students and lecturers at the Geography Department of the city’s University College of Applied Sciences (UCAS). Besides documenting its archaeological and tourist sites, the map includes practical information such as hospitals and government buildings. Funded by the Bank of Palestine, the English-language map is handed out free of charge.

"We decided to give Gaza its due," Amir Shurrab, a lecturer at UCAS's Information Technology Department and head of Midad, the company that implemented the mapping project, told The Media Line. "Gaza is the world's fourth-most-ancient city. This project was our dream and aspiration, which we finally realized."

Gaza boasts unique archeological sites dating back millennia. The tomb of Prophet Muhammad's grandfather Hashem and the recently unearthed Hellenistic site of Tel Al-Rafah near the Egyptian border, where 1,300 silver coins were discovered, are only some of the city's highlights.

Shurrab said there are enough tourists in the city, and plenty more visiting political activists to justify creating the map. Until now, the only tool available for them to navigate the city was a printout from Google Maps, which he said isn’t detailed enough.
The two maps in this post are neither from the 'Bank of Palestine' (I could not find that map) nor from Google maps. They are IDF intelligence maps showing all the booby trapped buildings in Gaza City during Operation Cast Lead. They tell you what you really need to know about Gaza City, which is why none of you will be going there anytime soon.

The title of this post.... When I was around high school graduation bumper stickers appeared all over America that said "Visit San Clemente! You paid for it!'" San Clemente (California) was then-President Nixon's western White House. You've paid far more for Gaza City than you ever paid for San Clemente.


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