War-weary Gazan youth seek jobs in Israel

Israel's crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip and its recent military onslaught on the Gaza Strip have raised unemployment rates to 60 percent and poverty rates to a staggering 90 percent

War-weary Gazan youth seek jobs in Israel
World Bulletin / News Desk
 In hopes of finding employment, Shadi Abu Zaher, 21, snuck out of the blockaded, war-battered Gaza Strip and into Israel. He was spotted by Israeli watchtowers, however, and arrested by Israeli forces stationed at the border.

Abu Zaher and another young Gazan named Fahd Abu Houli, both from the Gaza Strip's Deir al-Balah city, were both detained by Israel on December 1, according to the Al-Mizan Center for Human Rights, a Gaza-based NGO.

Abu Zaher and Abu Houli are among dozens of young men driven to sneak across the border into Israel looking for work after unemployment and poverty reached unprecedented levels due to the ongoing closure of the strip's borders with Egypt and Israel.

"Attempts to sneak across the border [into Israel] increase more and more every day," Samir Zaqout, the NGO's chief researcher, told The Anadolu Agency.

This month alone, Israel arrested 22 Palestinians for infiltrating the border from Gaza, he said.

"The dire standards of living and economic conditions in Gaza are the reason for these rising numbers," Zaqout said.

He added: "Unfortunately, many of these young men are minors who wish to escape poverty and the blockade [on the Gaza Strip] without realizing the tragic significance of sneaking into Israel."

Ahmed al-Tarabeen, 22, was released by Israeli forces two weeks after being detained and interrogated for attempting to sneak across the border.

"The interrogators wanted to know if I had been sent by a particular Palestinian faction," al-Tarabeen told AA.

"But after extensive questioning, they were persuaded that I had crossed the border due to difficult economic conditions in Gaza," he said.

"All I wanted was to improve my poor family's living conditions," he said. "I was not afraid of being jailed, injured – even killed."

Israel's crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip and its recent military onslaught on the territory have raised unemployment rates to 60 percent and poverty rates to a staggering 90 percent, according to the Popular Committee for Lifting the Siege on the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian NGO.

Thousands of homes were destroyed during Israel's 51-day assault in July and August, which left over 2,160 Palestinians dead and some 11,000 injured.

Thousands of Gazans now live in shelters without basic amenities due to the resultant collapse of essential services, including electricity and water.

Earlier this week, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that 170 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip had entered Israel illegally during 2014, 94 of whom did so following the Israeli offensive.

The newspaper quoted an Israeli security officer as saying that only in "very rare" cases were Palestinians caught sneaking across the border found to have done so with the aim of carrying out attacks inside Israel.

Describing infiltrators as "desperate," the security officer reportedly said the vast majority of them had been driven from Gaza by deteriorating economic conditions and chronic water and electricity shortages.

Gaza Interior Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Bazm, for his part, said his ministry had taken measures aimed at curbing the "alarming trend."

"Anyone found to have tried to infiltrate the border will be punished," he said. "Those young men – whose ages mostly range from 14 to 22 – are risking their lives."

"They think life beyond the border will be better, but they don't realize that the only thing that awaits them is death, injury or indefinite detention," he added.

He went on to urge international organizations to work towards lifting the eight-year-old blockade of the embattled coastal strip.

Israel has banned the entry of construction materials into the Gaza Strip – along with most other vital necessities – since Palestinian resistance faction Hamas swept Palestinian legislative polls in early 2006.

The following year, the self-proclaimed Jewish state imposed an all-out blockade – by air, land and sea – on the coastal territory, wreaking havoc on the lives of its roughly 1.9 million inhabitants.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Aralık 2014, 17:03