Gaza at the forefront of Palestine’s pain

Palestine Update 182

Gaza at the forefront of Palestine’s pain

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, during his monthly briefing on the Middle East to the UN Security Council gave Gaza the lion’s share of his time. He was not into mere sharing of ‘information and data’. Instead, he highlighted how the urgency of the situation is desperate. ‘Gaza can explode any minute’, he asserted. Gaza, he stated ted, if left to face its own suffering “could have repercussions outside of the Gaza Strip”.

The report underlines how ‘Gaza is at the forefront of Palestine’s pain, and represents the essence of the Palestinian political situation at this point in time, holds all the strings of the cause, the issues of which are intertwined within each other. The Palestinian -Palestinian reconciliation, the truce with the occupation, the UNRWA crisis, the disputes over the form and type of resistance, the organization of Palestinian legitimacy, and other issues, all involve Gaza’ Mladenov reported.

If the problem were only that of a humanitarian crisis, it would not be as complex. More aid could set it right. But Gaza is a political hot potato and is not a matter of more crumbs and band aid. The blockade is cruel, inhumane, a violation of civilizational  standards and a refusal to return to the Palestinians their dignity and right to self-determination and to choose democracy. Right now all that life in Gaza is resembles dread of Israel’s unfounded vengeance and the real prospect of waging an endless struggle.

When the blockade first began, Gazans were able to ease the siege by importing all kinds of goods (including weapons) through underground tunnels connected to neighboring Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. But the tunnel economy collapsed in 2013 after Egypt cracked down, and in the five years since, Gaza’s economy has basically ground to a halt.

The response Israel uses to defend punitive restrictions on the transport of goods included some foods, into Gaza is that ‘We regret the harm to Palestinians in Gaza, Israel is saying, but it’s unavoidable, because ‘Hamas controls everything in Gaza’.

Gazans have refused to be subdued, instead protesting using the limited means of dispute, and almost always, non-violently. Israel responds by killing indiscriminately and, as if, it is really threatened. Israel’s line is conceited and unintelligent:  We can’t act against Hamas without also harming protesters’.

In this issue we reproduce for readers a description of “The Gaza crisis, explained in eight graphics”. It provides a recap of how Gazans have had to be Israel’s version of ‘collateral’ for Israel’s perverse colonialist wrath against the Palestinians.

Ranjan Solomon

The Gaza crisis, explained in eight graphics


Home to almost two million Palestinians, the majority of whom are long-term refugees, Gaza is one of the most crowded places on Earth

Gaza is bordered to the south by Egypt, to the north and east by Israel and to the west by the Mediterranean sea

1. Where is Gaza?

Gaza is home to almost two million Palestinians, the majority of whom are long-term refugees (a further 3.25 million Palestinians live in the West Bank). It’s been run by Hamas since elections in 2007: the group is designated as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and the EU among others. The West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Authority, which is currently controlled by Fatah, rivals of Hamas. It is one of the most crowded places in the world. But the Israeli blockade means that residents find it tough, if not impossible, to leave.

2. The event that changed Palestinians

The dominant event for Palestinians in Gaza during the past century has been the Nakba of 1948, when hundreds of thousands were driven from, or else fled, their homes in what is now modern-day Israel as the state came into existence. The right of return to ancestral homes (or “Haq al-Awda”) is the over-riding long-term priority for many Palestinians: it forms part of United Nations resolution 194.

3. Palestinians recall what was lost

Palestinian houses and cinemas, shops and mosques, train stations and markets were all lost in 1948. Tarek Bakri, a researcher and archivist based in Jerusalem, started to collect archive photography which documented these losses. The image below slides left and right: MEE has published more examples.

Above: Israelis looting houses in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Musrara in Jerusalem. Musrara is one of the oldest neighbourhood built outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls in the 1860s.

4. Gaza since 1948

The seven decades after the Nakba have been ones of turmoil and crisis for the residents of Gaza, including occupationuprisings and Israeli military operations.

5. Daily living

Long-term living conditions in Gaza are some of the worst in the Middle East. A report by the UN in 2015 noted that the economic well-being of Palestinians living in Gaza was worse than in 1995 and that it may be “uninhabitable” by 2020; last year the organisation said that conditions were “unliveable“.

6. Financial misery

Economic development in Gaza has stalled due to wrecked infrastructure, the blockade imposed by Israel and internal Palestinian political conflict. Major military operations by Israel especially have had an impact which long outlast the duration of any army action.

7. Israeli attacks on Gaza

The Israeli army mounted four major operations against Gaza between 2006 and 2014, often, it said, to stop Hamas and other groups firing rockets into Israel. Aside from wrecking infrastructure including electricity lines and power stations, health services and water supplies, military assaults on Gaza have resulted in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, as well as Israeli soldiers and civilians.

8. The protests

On 30 March, Palestinians started regular protests in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba on 15 May. Israeli forces sometimes fired at the demonstrations, saying they were doing so to defend the border – with fatal consequences. The highest number of deaths was on 14 May, the day that the US embassy opened in Jerusalem, when 62 were killed. Many protesters were also demonstrating about the conditions under which they had lived in Gaza for years.

Don’t befriend me for a day, and leave me a month. Don’t get close to me if you’re going to leave. Don’t say what you don’t do. Be close or get away.

 لا تصاحبني يوماً .. لتهجرني شهراً ولا تقربني .. لتبعدني .. لا تقل ما لا تفعل كُن قريباً .. أو ابتعد.

Mahmoud Darwish.