Guess what? After the Raffah crossing is open since the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan for the first time, Gaza people, especially youths, found their way to ‘emigrate’ outside the enclave. The decade-long siege, the unemployment, which increased to more than 80%, and poverty are among the most important reasons that led some of the unemployed, even the employed, youth in the Gaza Strip to emigrate abroad to secure their future.
Recent reports stated that more than 13,000 of youths with mature minds and dreamed sights from Gaza have left the Strip during last month, which is a shocking number, while Facebook unofficial pages posted names of famous talented doctors from Gaza who also emigrated outside!
Gaza has an exceptional high education rate and young population; one-fifth of the population has a bachelor’s or associate degree, and 64 percent are under 25 years old. The literacy rate is 96.9 %, which could be the highest compared to other advanced countries! This means Gaza can be as advanced as other spots of the world IF situations get better.
Despite the fact that most Arab youths try to leave their countries due to the lack of work and stability, Palestinians are the most seekers to emigrate as they live in the largest open prison. As the youths finished their university, their goal turns to find a safer place than Gaza, especially after local and international organizations warned that Gaza will be unlivable in 2020!
‘Silent Immigration’ of Palestinians youths from Gaza to other countries sounded the alarm already, and real social catastrophes would begin ending up Gaza social ladder, which would need international efforts to be done in order to be stopped.
If the Palestinian and the Israeli decision makers, however, don’t try to solve the catastrophic economical and humanitarian situations of the Gaza Strip as soon as possible, Gaza will be empty of youths, who are the power and the soul of the besieged Strip.
After meeting with Egyptian President and Jordanian King, US Kushner met today with the Israeli Prime Minister discussing President Trump’s ‘Century Deal’ or ‘Peace Deal’. After then end of the three-hour long meeting, the Israeli Haaretz daily reported on Friday that the plan is due to be proposed by the US administratoin, and will reportedly include offering Abu Dis town (East of Jerusalem) to become the capital of a future shrunk Palestinian state instead of Jerusalem, in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
According to the American vision of the peace plan, Israel will have to separate from four neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, Shu’fat, Jabal al-Mukaber, Isawiya and Abu Dis, and transfer it to the Palestinian Authority and separate it from Jerusalem. Israeli on the other hand will not be asked to withdraw from Israeli settlements in Aghwar.
Responding to the leaks, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) on Friday said that the American moves in the region, which come under the title of “improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza” constitute a great contradiction with the recent US positions which included reducing its contributions to UNRWA and cutting off aid to the Palestinian Authority.
At the same time, reports from Gaza states that Hamas would be ready to reach a long ceasefire with Israel in exchange of having an airport and a seaport in addition to improving Gaza humanitarian situations.
What’s going to happen, in my point of view, is that politicians will try to convince Palestinian leadership and the Arab leaders to make a Palestinian State in the Gaza Strip and in some parts of the West Bank, a step Palestinians will compete refuse. However, Palestinians of Gaza have been waiting for any solution that can end their decade-long siege imposed on the enclave in 2007. So will Trump’s Deal be the breeze they have been waiting for, or it will be a curse that would worsen the Palestinian case and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?
You know it’s hard times in Gaza when the best families can do as they shop for holiday clothes is to buy secondhand Israeli goods. And that is the situation this year as the 2 million residents prepare for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.
Unemployment has soared to 44 percent overall and 60 percent among youth in the wake of the Palestinian Authority’s salary restrictions and U.S. cuts in aid to UNRWA, the UN refugee agency. About half of the population lives in extreme poverty.
During the Eid holiday, a typically joyful time like the Christian Christmas and Jewish Hanukkah, parents buy new clothes for children, women buy cakes and cookies, and families visit their relatives with gifts. When you have no money however, it’s difficult to honor the traditions.
One recent day, I encountered Mohammed Abu Safi, 18, and his mother in Gaza’s Omer Mukhtar market, looking for inexpensive clothes. It was two days before Eid. He said he knew his mom would not be able to afford to buy what he really wanted, but he still hoped to find something decent.
“Two weeks ago, I came to this market to buy clothes for Eid, but everything was too expensive,” he explained. “So, I asked Mom to come just before the holiday, in the hope that the salesmen would sell their goods at cheaper prices.”
Unfortunately, he didn’t find anything that day. One shirt alone cost 60 shekels (about US$18) and a pair of pants costs the same or a bit more. Good shoes cost even more—120 shekels (US$35), so the total cost of an outfit would be about $70, which most Gazans can’t easily afford.
Maher Tabba`, an economic analyst in Gaza, says that more than 255,000 residents are jobless, many of whom are university graduates.
“The level of food insecurity has risen to more than 72 percent,” he adds.
Ahmed Baraka, a clothing merchant in the same market, sat in a chair, looking bored and furious. His shop, stocked with shirts and trousers, was empty of customers.
“What do you want me to say? These goods are borrowed from another merchant, and I will sell them at lower prices so I can pay him back, which means I will be broke,” he said.
Baraka and other merchants are very pessimistic this Eid.
“Today I didn’t sell what I expected to sell. Eid is the day after tomorrow; in previous years, my shop was never empty during this time of year,” Baraka added.
Othman Abu Rokba, 45 and a father of seven, said he came to the market with his kids only to look at the clothes in the stores, a tradition for him. He creates the feeling for his kids that they are shopping for new clothes, then “sneaks” to another market for second-hand clothes.
“My kids need new clothes but I can’t afford them, since I’ve been jobless since 2007,” Abu Rokba said. “At the same time, I don’t want them to feel different from other kids who have new Eid clothes. So, I take them to Firas Market, which sells used Israeli-imported clothes.”
Firas Market, located in central Gaza City, is full of shops with second-hand clothes imported from Israel. They are cheap and a lot of them are international brands. How does he feel about buying clothes supplied by his occupier?
“For 50 shekels (US$15), I can buy clothes for my seven children, which is way more affordable than buying new ones,” he shrugged.