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Protests in Gaza
Alex Fishman
No hope for Gazans
Op-ed: The IDF is preparing for the next round of fighting with Hamas, which is expected to be much more intense than in previous operations. Yet, the spark which may start the fighting this time will be different. The Gazan population is at its boiling point, and when it explodes, the entire region will feel it.
Just like every year, the IDF is getting ready for another violent round of conflict in Gaza this summer. The IDF chief of staff has created a deadline for the IDF to be prepared, focusing on equipment updates and training. No one knows the timing or what will be the direct cause of the next flare up, but it is clear that this near-yearly ritual illustrates the inescapable reality. Yet, this is not only the Israeli mindset.

 

 

The residents of Gaza who have left the Strip and spoken to Israelis reveal that this fatalistic mindset is also on the other side. In their opinion, a military confrontation is a certainty. They also believe that it will be a lot more aggressive, that Israel is sick of playing these games with Hamas, and that Israel will do everything to eliminate the organization.

 

Poverty in the Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)
Poverty in the Gaza Strip (Photo: Reuters)

 

Meanwhile, Hamas is planning to surprise Israel with its firepower, and will hit Israel's civilian population in order to break both the status-quo and the blockade. When the two populations are convinced that a flare up will happen, the leadership will not fail to disappoint.

 

But it seems that the next round being cooked up may surprise the leadership since they will not be in control of the events. It is likely that the confrontation won't start because of some mistake, provocation, or some sort of planned military action based on political logic. There is a high probability that the timing and the intensity of the confrontation will be determined by the Gazan population, which will blow up in Hamas's face, and will spillover onto Israel, the West Bank, and even into Egypt.

 

Gaza has turned into a human transit camp which every day tests the limits of its population. In Israel, we often see the infrastructure crisis in Gaza - electricity and water shortages, and broken sewage systems. But that only scratches the surface: Gazan society has started to disintegrate.

 

The number of suicides has reached unprecedented levels. The number of instances of murder within the family has grown: for instance, there is a phenomenon whereby women are stabbing their unemployed husbands. Every third person is on anti-depressants. There has been an increase in drug use and the overall scope of crime has increased, mainly prostitution, as well as the phenomenon of teenagers marrying much older men who are able to support them as a second or third wife. On the other hand, there is no money, young people aren't getting married, and the average age of marriage is rising.

 

 

IDF searching for Hamas tunnels into Israel on the border with Gaza (Photo:AP)
IDF searching for Hamas tunnels into Israel on the border with Gaza (Photo:AP)

 

The Palestinian Authority, which is responsible for transfering aid money to the Strip, is not transfering funds for health or education in an organized fashion. In Gaza, there is no proper psychological treatment. There is a rise in the number of children born with deformities – deformities linked with incestual marriages. Due to the current world wide refugee crisis, UNWRA is receiving less money, and fewer families are able to keep their heads above water.

 

On top of all of this is the constant fear of Israeli airstrikes. For the Gazans, there is no sanctuary - they have nowhere to run, and they have no influence over events. They are mad that Hamas has built for themselves what amount to underground cities, while they are left without bomb shelters.

 

Young people who are caught trying to cross the fence into Israel say they do it because there is no food at home, or because they are escaping violence in the family. 50 percent of the youth in Gaza have said in different surveys that they want to leave Gaza forever. The IDF is keenly aware of the phenomenon: students who obtain entry permits into Israel through Erez crossing kiss the ground when they leave the Strip. For them, they are free from jail. The ethos of return has been broken - let them leave.

 

Until the middle of 2015, families who could afford it got themselves smuggled out through the tunnels into Egypt or Libya, and from there take a boat to Europe. Hundreds of Palestinians drowned along the way. The Egyptians succeeded in destroying most of the tunnels, and the route has been cut off.

 

Now, the number of people falsifying documents "proving" they are sick has grown, and these people are being taken from Gaza to the West Bank for "treatment," but never return.

 

Several people in Gaza have already set themselves on fire in protest. In Tunis, this action led to the "Arab Spring." Gaza is also starting flare up. While it is true that the population is religious, traditional, and more willing to accept its fate, the pot is still about to boil over. When the human time-bomb explodes, there will be no warning, and the shrapnel will hit us all.

 

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