MAWASSI, Gaza – Three years have passed since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, and in that time the economy of this coastal territory of 1.4 million people has gone from bad to worse.
But in Mawassi – a mixed ethnic Palestinian and Bedouin town that was completely isolated from the rest of Gaza inside a Jewish settlement enclave – it’s a different story.
“I want [the Israelis] to come back,” says Riyad al-Laham, an unemployed father of eight who worked in the area’s Jewish settlements for nearly 20 years. “All the Mawassi people used to work in the settlements and make good money. Now there is nothing to do. Even our own agricultural land is barren.”