While revelers around the world are making new year’s resolutions for 2020, in the Gaza Strip, a different kind of assessment is taking place as Palestinians try to determine whether, or how, they can survive the next 10 years. In 2012, the United Nations published a report whose title asked a jarring question: “Gaza in 2020: A Liveable Place?” The report surmised that without fundamental change and collective effort, the strip would become “unlivable” in only eight years’ time.
The report was released just months before the second of three Israeli military operations that would be launched in Gaza over a period of six years. Following the third operation, Protective Edge, in 2014, with its massive toll in human life and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure, UN officials subsequently warned that the strip would actually become unlivable by 2018. The predictions of the Gaza 2020 report had not factored in military operations of such magnitude.
Nonetheless, on the eve of 2020, people are asking what became of the UN’s predictions – as if at the stroke of midnight, the specter of unlivebility may or may not come true. Yet by all accounts, and according to the indicators chosen by the UN, life in Gaza is palpably worse now than it was in 2012. For example, the unemployment rate went from 29% when the report was written to 45% today, with the rate at more than 60% among young Palestinians.