Egyptian Journalist Describes 'Absolute Prosperity' in Gaza With Hamas telling tales of deprivation and suffering in Gaza, Egyptian journalist Ashraf Abu al-Houl has added his report to others who were surprised to discover a prosperous Gaza in which prices are low and luxury businesses are booming. Al-Houl's story of his trip to Gaza and his realization that in actual terms, Gaza is not under siege was written up in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). "A sense of absolute prosperity prevails, as manifested by the grand resorts along and near Gaza's coast. Further, the site of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me, he reported. Concerned that his initial impression of prosperity may have been misleading, I toured the new resorts, most of which are quite grand, as well as the commercial markets, to verify my hypothesis. The resorts and markets have come to symbolize prosperity, and to prove that the siege is formal or political, not economic, Al-Houl said. -- Most of the new resorts are owned by members, or associates, of Hamas, he reported. In addition, the Hamas municipalities charge high fees, in Gaza terms, for the use of public beaches, he added.