- Published on Sunday, 13 May 2012 00:13
By Yousef Alhelou
12th May 2012
Amid waves of protests and activities which started in April 17th to show solidarity with the Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails, the ordinary Palestinians of Gaza have other issues to worry about, their inability to make ends meet and to provide for their families under years of Israeli siege which has devastated the economy in the seaside territory.
"Labors Day" was marked in Gaza like other places worldwide; the poor laborers who have been unemployed for years decided to go to the solidarity tent erected in the Unknown Soldier Park in the heart of Gaza city to share with the prisoners, their hunger and pain.
But for the Palestinians of Gaza, the most troubling issue is the failure of the implementation of the unity deal reached last February between PA's Chief Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khalid Meshal.
Some blame Fatah, others blame Hamas, but there are those who blame both.
The majority of people in Gaza who are not affiliated to either faction -who make up about two thirds of Gaza's population- believe that national unity is the key to solving most of the binding issues, mainly the bad economy.
Unity between Gaza and the west Bank will provide a front to face all other external challenges, including important issues such as the Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails.
Only unity will be able to unify all Palestinians behind a strong leadership. But look what we have- two governments, one in Gaza lead by Hamas and the other in the West Bank lead by The Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, People are fed up with the practices of the security forces of the two governments in the two geographically isolated territories under Israeli occupation.
In Gaza, employees who are employed by the two governments receive salaries, but those who have been unemployed for years either receive food parcels or sit at home or in the streets waiting for any job opportunity; add to that the 1000's of graduates each year who join the army of jobless people.
Needless to mention those who left Gaza looking for a better future away from politics that causes headache for the young and old.
But those who are affected by the shameful division and blockade often talk with despair and hopelessness.
Ordinary people who are not affiliated to Hamas complain about discrimination, especially when they apply for government jobs, freedom of expression at public or cultural gatherings. Those who dare to criticize the Hamas government in Gaza are often intimidated or asked to report to police stations or offices of the internal security.
In light of the high level of poverty and utter destitution, those affected such as Gaza fishermen who are the hardest hit sector in Gaza under years of Israeli sea blockade.
If you have a small business such as a grocery in a poor area away from urban neighborhoods, this does not mean you are exempted to pay tax.
No doubt the Hamas government was able to put an end to the phenomena of thugs or family gangs but still people want to see positive achievements on the ground in terms of improving economy and stop blaming the ongoing siege, as the tunnels underneath the border between Egypt and the costal enclave are still used to bring in almost all kinds of goods, and also to give more freedom for people and journalists to express their views.
Following the Israeli unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and the imposition of the siege in 2006, Gaza has become the world's largest open air prison; much of the territory was devastated during the Israeli war on Gaza at the turn of 2009. No doubt that the support for the Palestinian cause and solidarity with Gaza has increased in recent years, but the pace of the reconstruction of Gaza should have begun long time ago! The government in Gaza has a duty to look after the people it is ruling and solve the crises that have created hardships among the Gazans such as fuel and electricity crisis.
What is needed from the two governments and all Palestinian political factions is to put the national interests above their respective factional considerations and are morally bound to support the steadfastness of the ordinary Citizens of Gaza who have now reached the pinnacle of frustration and despair. A change of strategy is needed because people are the source behind real power- as true Government means power by the People for The People
Yousef Alhelou, independent freelance journalist from Gaza