| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

As Protests on Gaza Border Resume, Palestinian Man Explains Why He’s Taking Part in Demonstrations

Dire economic conditions coupled with an air, water, and land blockade have pushed over a million Gazans into poverty. Many of them are blaming Israel for the crisis and taking to the fence that separates the enclave from Israel to make sure their voices are heard.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are expected to take to the fence separating the enclave and Israel in a number of locations in the upcoming days, unofficial sources in Gaza have reported.

On Tuesday night, demonstrations are expected in Rafiah, located in the southern part of the Strip. A day later rallies will take place in Khan Younes.

According to Israeli media reports, the demonstrations will take place at night and will probably involve shooting, attempts to damage the security barrier that separates Gaza and Israel, and the use of lasers to disrupt the activities of the Israel Defense Forces.

Such activities involving thousands of participants were common in 2018, when the Palestinians initiated so-called March of Return rallies after the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The protests were also meant to express outrage over the ongoing blockade imposed by Israel.

But those came to a halt in 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip and the desire of the local authorities to curb the spread of the virus by banning mass gatherings.

A Comeback

Now, it seems, these demonstrations are making a comeback. Mohammed Al Batnaigi from the Al Shajaeya neighbourhood in the eastern part of Gaza City is one of those young people vowing to take part in the protests.

Since their renewal several days ago, the young man has already participated in a number of rallies, and he says he is doing so “to express his anger over the deeds of Israel”.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been living under a sea, air, and land blockade since 2007, when Hamas, a group deemed a terrorist organisation by Israel, seized control of the enclave, ousting officials from its rivals, Fatah.

The blockade has deteriorated the economic conditions of the Palestinians pushing more than a million into unemployment and subsequent poverty.

For many, including Al Batnaiji himself, it also meant no hope for a better future.

“Israel has been punishing us, civilians, for many years. We live in poverty, we lack education and we have no future. So I take part in these protests because I feel there is no ray of light that this suffering is ever going to end”.

Israel has already indicated that if these protests and other provocations on the Gaza border continue, the Jewish state will have no other choice but to launch a military campaign against Hamas that governs the Strip.

A recent campaign in the enclave – “Operation Guardian of the Walls” – that took place in May following a barrage of rockets on Israel from Gaza devastated the Strip causing millions of dollars in damage, and the belief in Israel was that it will deter the Palestinians from pushing the envelope with Israel once again. But Al Batnaigi says the memory of the past damage will not stop protesters like him from speaking up.

“We are already living in misery, our blood is being spilled and we are like dead people, so what else can Israel do to scare us? Really nothing”.

Internal Divisions

Yet, Israel is far from being the only one responsible for the crisis in the Gaza Strip, and Al Batnaigi says he is also accusing the Palestinian factions of failing to reach unity and promote their cause.

Relations between the two main factions have soured since the ouster of Fatah from the Strip. Multiple efforts to soothe tensions have yielded little results, something that shattered the Palestinians’ standing on the global arena, hampered their efforts to raise funds for their cause, and pushed their economy into a deeper abyss.

“If only we had decent economic conditions, I wouldn’t participate in these protests and wouldn’t put myself in this dangerous position. Unfortunately, Fatah and Hamas don’t care about us, and this gives Israel an opportunity to keep attacking us, and this means that there is no end in sight to our suffering”.

  • Sputnik