Gaza: a city no one wants

by Abdalhadi Alijla, June 13, 2016.

As Palestinians commemorate the 68th
anniversary of the Nakba, “catastrophe” in Arabic, when the indigenous people
of Palestine were driven into exile and the Israeli State was established, a
new Nakba takes place. This new Nakba is the political division between Hamas
and Fatah.

The day to day life of the
people of Gaza is best represented by the running joke: “Police have arrested a
Gazan who has hope”. No hope. No future.

The Rafah crossing between Gaza and
Egypt recently opened for two days after a three-month closure. Registered
travelers numbered at more than 30,000, but Egyptian border security only allowed
747 into Egypt. A journey, which under
usual circumstances should only take five minutes by bus or one hour, including
bureaucratic procedures, now takes over 24 hours sometimes 48 hours, leaving
hundreds of Palestinians in prison-like areas inside the Egyptian side of the
Rafah border, a violation of basic human rights.

Egypt ruled Gaza from 1948 until
1967. Since then, Gazans have attended Egypt’s universities, creating a strong
bond with Egypt over time. Nowadays, Egypt’s narrative has changed, and Gazans
are treated as enemies.

Last year I was banned by Israeli
security from going to Palestine, yet I received much better treatment
than my fellow Palestinians in Egyptian airports and borders.
What makes this especially difficult to bear is the fact that
Palestinians have
never had any conflict with the Egyptian army, compared to Jordan,
Lebanon and

The question therefore needs to be
asked: why is Egypt treating Palestinians from Gaza so badly? Why does Egypt
treat Palestinians as sub-human? Even if it is the norm in Egypt for the
government to deal with its own people in such a manner, why is this treatment
extended to Palestinians when all they ask is to cross the border to travel
onto somewhere else? It seems that Egypt is intent on sending this strong
message to all parties: ‘We are not interested in Gaza, Gazans or their
troubles; let them suffer away from us’.

Gaza’s burden is not limited to its
southern border, it also extends to Jordan. When the Israeli military started
to allow Gazans to travel through Jordan, after receiving military permission
to cross from the West Bank, Jordan then tightened its security measures. Not
only did they deny visas for Gazans living in Gaza, but also for Gazans who
live in the West Bank. The decision came immediately after Israel’s decision to condition Gazan’s
exit to a one-year no return, which is a violation of their human rights. Due
to Israel’s decision, Jordan may have felt that a decision was made to hand
Gaza to Jordan.

However, this does not explain the
need for Gazans to issue visas while their counterparts in Jordan can travel whenever
they want. Gaza has traditionally been aligned with Egypt and the West Bank
with Jordan, so perhaps Palestinians of the West Bank are trusted more than
Gazans? This reinforces the premise that Gaza is being treated as a security
issue and, by extension, Gazans are seen as a threat to Jordan.

Israel too plays a crucial role for
Gaza. They have been besieging the Gaza Strip for ten years; its army murdering
more than 5000 Palestinians between 2008 and 2014 over the course of three assaults. Israel would ultimately like to annex the West Bank, leaving Gaza as
the state for the Palestinians. In 1987 Martin Gouterman suggested Gaza become the
Singapore of the Middle East.

In 2004, to avoid
negotiations, prevent discussions on refugees, Jerusalem and borders, Sharon’s plan was to stop the
creation of a Palestinian state and allow a state in Gaza. The Israeli
government is ready to do everything possible to rid itself of Gaza or keep
borders closed indefinitely. The issue is not only Hamas, but also the history
of the relationship between Gazans and the Occupation.

The same goes for the Palestinian
Authority (PA) and Fatah’s leadership in Ramallah. They are not interested in
taking Gaza back from Hamas. Despite the fact that they are willing to
negotiate with Hamas over reconciliation and Hamas’ manipulation of national
and regional efforts, PA’s leadership cannot guarantee positions, diplomatic
employees and governmental advantages not only for Hamas, but even for

In Ramallah and among the
Palestinian leadership, Gaza is seen as scabies no one wants to come close
to. This perception is realised by the appointment of high-level employees only
in Ramallah. Non-Gazan high ranked employees are the only ones appointed and
funded. This belies a hostility not only toward Hamas but also toward Gaza in
general, as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are systematically regarded not as
one entity, one people and one future-state.

It seems that the Gazans have been
effectively abandoned and left in the hands of Hamas to do with them as they
please. This policy is transforming Gaza, slowly but steadily, into a hotbed of
radicals that is bound to explode.

The division between Hamas and
Fatah, the siege on Gaza and the stubborn leadership of Hamas have led
to catastrophic consequences in the Gaza Strip: high unemployment,
increased rates of suicide,
shortages in power, water and medical supplies, hardships in general
wellbeing, higher rates of poverty, a crushing siege on the Gaza strip,
increased taxes on necessary goods (imposed by Hamas), corruption,
distrust, higher political repression and arbitrary arrests among Gaza’s

To avoid such an outcome, action
must be taken and now. The world should not regard Gaza as a humanitarian crisis,
but rather a political crisis. The PA must deal with Gaza as an entity that
belongs to them, and represent the interests and needs of its people.

The PA works for a limited group of
people who are becoming the new bourgeoisie of Gaza, while the great majority
continue to suffer every day. Egypt and Jordan should also rethink how they
deal with the population of Gaza. Not all are a security threat; in fact, none
of them need pose such a threat if they are granted access to basic human

Writer and activist from Rafah, Mahmoud
, wrote the following on his Facebook page:

“Do not listen to anyone who says
there is hope in Gaza. Even if we achieve political reconciliation, it will not
work because it is based on a quota-based political division which will fail.
Gaza’s problem is bigger than its geographical borders. Gaza is a sinking
vessel. The only solution is individual salvation. Jump from the sinking vessel
before you die”.

This is the painful reality of Gaza
and the story of a city that no one wants.

SOURCE: Open democracy