It is an open air-prison ~ both physically and psychologically
Ayman QWAIDER – 1-03-2012
Walking along the narrow roads of the Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, you hear people continually discuss politics. Of course, living in a military occupation the connection between politics and daily life is ever-present. The daily reality in Gaza is experiencing a dramatic change day-to-day. In another words, it is an environment where security does not exist. In Gaza, insecurity has become integral aspect of people daily life. People often talk about the inescapability of violence and wars and the symptoms of their suffering. Gaza is an open-air prison with physical and psychological negative impact on the entire young nation of 1.7 million people mostly women and children.
Over the past 8 years in Gaza, the society ruthlessly experienced two aggressive wars that has resulted in Gaza being a very young traumatized population. Israeli bombardment of Gaza occurs so often and there is absolutely nothing to do but just to endure the violence. During a visit to Bait Hanoun City (north of the Gaza Strip), I had the chance to set and talk with a group of young children who where playing football in an unclean public square. Experiencing every single minute in life is the principle goal in such cruelly unstable environment. Death is such an common occurrence in life in Gaza. One can easily reach a conclusion that children are certain that something bad will happen, but no clue where and when might this happen. In Gaza, there is a traumatized generation with so little hope resulting directly harsh life surrounded by human-made walls.
A systematic policy of isolation
A devastating isolation policy imposed on the 1.7 million civilians caused absence of interaction between Gazans and the rest of the human community in recent years. With growing distance and constant aggressions waged by Israel, through unmanned drones and warplanes, have forced the younger generation of Gazans to consider different perspectives. When people engage and learn about each other’s experience, this provides a window of openness and hope. What one can expect from isolated generation being left up alone to cope with aggressive realities? Logical heartbreaking conclusion might be deduced that violence is an expected outcome from closed off community.
I visited Canaan Institute in Gaza City, a pioneer institute in working with children through innovative education activities and new pedagogy. “The current situation in Gaza has left Gaza young generation on edge. Excessive worrying, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety are rampant among young people in Gaza” Issa Sabah, the director of the institute to info-palestine.
Nights are sleepless in Gaza with over 8 hours of electricity cut off. This winter season has been harsh and winter nights are harsher due to power supply. The power shortage in Gaza has had destructive impacts on Palestinian daily life and in various levels. Education is not solely the victim of electricity cut but definitely the most targeted by this human-made crisis. Schools in Gaza operate in two shifts, morning and afternoon shifts due to large number students and modest construction material allowed entry to Gaza. When the school day is over, students spend great part of their day at homes. Doing school homework and revising lessons are not an easy task in Gaza. Anas Qwaider, a 12-year-old student told info-Palestine “night is the only time when I can revise my school lessons and do my homework. Gaza winter nights are really cold with approximately 8 hours electricity off. When power supply is off, I depend on the candlelight to do my homework and revise lessons. How could one receive quality education in such harsh and deprived circumstances”?
In 1948, Israel was keen to drive out Palestinians from their homes and to build up a state for Jews. The Palestinian cause has been depicted as a humanitarian, rather than a political issue. The current humanitarian situation in The Gaza strip is worsening due to massive destruction of livelihood and significant deterioration of infrastructure. Needless to say, the Palestinians are a people without rights and in desperately need of a political solution to put en end to long-years of a state terrorism what was established by a political decision in 1948. The international community needs to emphasize freedom and human rights, rather than managing the suffering of Palestinian people of Gaza.