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Escape from Gaza - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Over 12,000 residents fled from the Gaza Strip to escape the thugs fighting for power who have turned this small piece of land, 130 square kilometers, into a living hell for approximately one million and a half inhabitants. They are the cause of fear, misery and poverty amongst the residents of Gaza.

Those that have fled have departed after the security and economic conditions deteriorated, and if it weren’t for the frequent blocking of crossings and the overcrowding in other camps, all of Gaza’s residents would have left it for Hamas and Fatah to enjoy together.

Is it not the most extreme form of protest when inhabitants flee from their homeland?

The people of Gaza have witnessed five difficult years in which Hamas’s fire has been interfering with their personal lives, in addition to Fatah’s militias draining the economy dry with their compulsory charges [Fatah demand monetary compensation in return for protection]. Moreover, lately, the two parties have been subjecting the residents to barriers, abductions and killings.

What is ironic is that the Gaza Strip, aside from all the other occupied territories, was believed to be the most fortunate place. It raised the Palestinian flag, advocated independence and advanced along the road to becoming the regional model for a liberated state. But it didn’t take long for the people in power to sour that dream and annihilate it so that Gaza became the Palestinian pinnacle of failure and destruction.

Gaza is the only place to have borne witness to two stages; peaceful liberation and the coercive expulsion of the occupier. For 13 years both Gaza and Jericho gained the right to partial autonomy under the Oslo accords. The Palestinian inhabitants of the strip launched a number of impressive projects and activities, including building an airport and a port, in addition to establishing governmental institutions. Things had begun to progress had it not been for a series of battles and chaotic events unfolding on enemy’s and Gaza’s fronts alike.

Good news came in the form of the Israeli announcement that it would withdraw from Gaza, since it had become a thorn in its side, perhaps they had anticipated that it would not be content under the hands of the local leadership. And so they collected their belongings and departed, destroying their settlements and military and security locations, while Gaza became the first of the occupied Palestinian territories to be fully liberated.

But that joy did not last. On first day of the Israeli withdrawal, the fighting erupted between Fatah and Hamas, and it has yet to cease. The fridges at hospital morgues continue to receive the dead without end, fallen at the hands of their brothers not their enemies. It was expected that Gaza would be devoted to reconstruction and united efforts and that it would be considered a peaceful, and perhaps even neutral, ground between the various factions and organizations.

The aspiration was that they would build the city and the rest of the strip. It was hoped that they would prove to the world that they were fit to rule the land and were deserving of their fellow citizens’ trust; the citizens who had sacrificed their children for the liberation of the land  not for the sake of serving Fatah and Hamas officials and the seats of power.

It remains for the combatants to decide either to minister to the citizens so that they may resolve the conflict amongst them; or else, every single last man, woman and child should depart.

Gaza has become a shameful and atrocious sight that causes frustration and grief.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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