“Every day is worse than the previous”, summarizes the Palestinian Mohamad Banat about living in Gaza, where the Islamist group Hamas celebrates 15 years in power today. Since then, the struggles with Fatah and Israel’s retaliatory blockade of the strip have kept Gazans isolated, impoverished and with no expectation of change.
”I am 34 years old, I am not married and I have no projection of life. we’ve lost it all”, regrets Banat to Efe.
The power struggle between the Islamist group and the secular Fatah party, which rules the West Bank, reached its peak in 2007, when Hamas – considered a terrorist by the United States, the European Union and Israel – assumed absolute control in Gaza and broke the national unity government created three months earlier.
The seizure of power by Hamas, on June 15, 2007, occurred after five days of fratricidal fighting with Fatah troops in what was dubbed the Battle of Gaza, which left some 120 dead.
This culminated in the expulsion of any Fatah-linked official from the enclave; Hamas’ break with President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian National Authority; the division of the Palestinian territory and the polarization of its people.
Much of the international aid received by the PNA ceased, and Gaza was plunged into political and economic crisis.
“This division is nonsense,” deplores Majed Al Jabri, 58, denouncing that neither Fatah nor Hamas have looked after the interests of the Palestinians: “All we win is wars, deaths, destruction and poverty.”
When Hamas took power, neighboring Israel and Egypt alleged threats to their security to establish strict restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza, confining its more than two million inhabitants within the walls that contain the coastal enclave. and isolating them from the world.
Like the vast majority of Gazans, Banat cannot leave the narrow strip to work, study, receive medical care or visit relatives. He assures that this situation also affects him psychologically.
“I’m tired. We can’t go out to work or work here. The university degree did not bring me any benefit”, assures this graduate in Arab studies from the University of Gaza, for whom the enclave “is in a sewer” since the division between Hamas and Fatah.
According to him, “life before the split was perfect, but afterward, everything went to waste.”
Al Jabri agrees that “what people want is to get a job to feed their children,” and recalls that Gazans “could work in Israel before the political division.”
For Gazans, the strip 40 kilometers long and 10 wide – where women dry their fish on clotheslines while children look for drinking water – became “the largest open-air prison” in the world 15 years ago.
“The closure of Gaza prevents professional and talented people, with much to give to their society, from seeking opportunities that they take for granted elsewhere,” denounced Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir.
Shakir called “apartheid” and “persecution” the prohibition of “Gaza Palestinians from moving freely around their homeland.”
Some 80% of the population in Gaza depend on humanitarian aid and most families cannot access reliable electricity, quality health care and clean water.
The Strip also suffers from a 70% youth unemployment and 58% among young graduatesaccording to Hamas data.
”The Palestinian division between Hamas and Fatah is endless and has been going on for 15 years. It has had a negative impact, mainly on young people, merchants and families”, says Mohamad Abu Sadia, 32 years old.
According to him, Hamas reserves employment sources for its supporters, leaving out those who have supported Fatah or other Palestinian factions.
In 15 years there have been no elections in Gaza or the West Bank, and thousands of disappointed young Gazans have emigrated to Turkey or Europe fleeing poverty and unemployment.
In addition, the dusty streets of Gaza, where donkey carts carrying fruit or people travel, were the scene of four wars with Israel during this period.
The bloodiest erupted in the summer of 2014: 50 days in which more than 2,000 Palestinians, including women and children, died.
Some analysts say that the PNA has worsened the situation in Gaza by cutting the share of aid they receive from abroad for Palestine as a whole.
“Abbas’s theory that by putting economic pressure on more than two million people in Gaza, they would make a revolution against Hamas and succeed in overthrowing it is completely wrong and has a negative impact on the population,” says Salim Yousef, an academic at the University of Gaza. Loop.
For the expert, the only solution to get the Gazans out of misery “is to put aside all factious and personal interests, end the endless division and complete reconciliation.”
“Otherwise, the situation will worsen and become uncontrollable,” he says.
(with information from EFE)
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