Israel urges Gazans to migrate to change demographics | Yousef Alhélou

Gaza is often described as the world’s largest open-air prison due to the Israeli blockade in place since 2007. The region is said to be a pressure cooker due to the endless crises facing its growing population. Nearly 2 million inhabitants live in the coastal enclave of 365 km² under Israeli air, sea and land control and a suffocating siege.

All movement from Gaza to the West Bank is limited by an Israeli-controlled terminal. While the war-torn area remains under Israeli occupation, Gazans are not allowed to use Israeli airports or seaports. Travel to the outside world is only available through the Egyptian Rafah border post, after which travelers must proceed to Cairo Airport.

Even then, leaving is not easy. Travelers must register with Gaza’s interior ministry well in advance and wait months to receive exit clearance. Bribes must be paid to the Egyptians and Palestinians for a quicker exit from the “Great Gaza Prison”.

However, the situation is only expected to get worse. With growing poverty and one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, the economic outlook is dim and there is little hope. The United Nations has warned that Gaza will be unlivable by 2020.

This sad reality has forced many people to seek a better life abroad. Individuals and families from Gaza risked their lives aboard fragile boats to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe. Many have drowned trying to reach European shores. Images have recently emerged of migrants crossing Europe’s forests without food or fresh water.

In an attempt to escape blame for the misery in Gaza, a senior Israeli official said Israel was prepared to cover the costs of helping Palestinians in Gaza immigrate and would consider allowing the use of an airfield. Israeli near the coastal strip for their departures to a new host of countries.

The official, who requested anonymity, added that Israel’s National Security Council recently asked European and Arab countries if they are prepared to accept Palestinians who wish to leave the impoverished group but have not yet received any response. positive.

Israeli policy is part of a systematic campaign, or let’s say a strategy, to push Gazans out to change the demographics of the region.

The only statistics on Gaza migration come from Israel. They say 35,000 Palestinians left the Gaza Strip in 2018 through the Rafah crossing, not counting those who left and returned.

At the time, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry was concerned that Israel was pushing Gazans out of their homeland, accusing the Jewish state of “targeting the Palestinians and the livelihoods of Gaza and pressing them for them. motivate to emigrate ”.

The Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of worsening the situation in Gaza by refusing to relinquish control of the territory.

Samir Zaqout, deputy director of the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, said the Israeli siege, frequent Israeli land and air offensives and deep divisions between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah are the main causes of the deterioration. the humanitarian situation in the region.

“Israel’s military practices, whether in the occupied West Bank, Gaza or Jerusalem, ranging from house demolitions to confiscation of Palestinian resources, settler attacks, frequent raids, arrest campaigns, humiliations as well as the siege of Gaza force Palestinians to relocate or migrate and seek a better future and a safe place to live, ”Zaqout said. “Therefore, these are systematic Israeli campaigns to empty the land of its indigenous population – the Palestinians. “

“The international community should also shoulder the responsibility and the consequences of failing to intervene to stop Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied territories,” he added.

Many Palestinian migrants have reached Europe or other countries, both legally and illegally, in search of a better future. Many are skilled professionals, resulting in a brain drain in the territory.

Since the start of the Great March of Return in March 2018, weekly protests calling for the lifting of the Israeli siege, many frustrated young people have tried to infiltrate the security fence between Gaza and Israel to escape the unbearable life in Gaza. All those who crossed were arrested by Israeli forces, some later released.

The longer the harsh reality of Gaza persists, the more people will consider desperate options. The denial of basic rights and freedom of movement for Gazans as well as a growing division between Palestinian factions has given rise to corruption and social unrest. The more the situation worsens, the more it becomes clear that the difficulties in Gaza are part of an orchestrated Israeli strategy to weaken the morale of the citizens and put pressure on them.

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