- Waiting for War: The Siege on the People of Gaza Tightens
by Shireen al-Akkah, Translated by Salma Khalifa, https://www.madamasr.com/en
As negotiations, meetings and mediations are underway to prevent the Palestinian reconciliation talks from collapsing, the lives of those living under siege in Gaza play out under very different concerns from those central to political groups’ discussions of technical details.
Israel’s blockade coupled with the sanctions the Palestinian Authority has imposed to extract political compliance from Hamas have left many Gazans watching high politics unfold from below. And as they watch, many are also left waiting for medical treatment, stranded with no means to resume studies, looking for ways to renew expired documents and residency permits, or working toward immigration.
A visit to the central Gaza City neighborhood of Rimal begins to paint a picture of this other reality. Financial aid applicants are taking up the better part of the most lively street in the entire strip.
The poverty rate in Gaza sits at 65 percent, and unemployment is up to 47 percent from 41.7 percent two years ago, according to figures produced by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics cited in a July 2017 Palestinian Center for Human Rights report.
Palestinian media projections and daily references in the Israeli media frame Israel as preparing to wage war in Gaza.
This comes as Israeli land, air and naval combat units have been conducting military exercises. The headquarters of most Palestinian factions have been notably evacuated, and police and security checkpoints have been deployed throughout the Gaza strip, all in preparation for any security emergencies. The state of the military alert is evident on the streets.
Here in Gaza, death does not seem like the most tragic fate — sections of the population have been fading away on a daily basis due to the dire living conditions, not to mention the psychological distress as war has become the foremost topic of discussion among the public. Everyone waits in anticipation. Perhaps the coming days will usher in events that will change the situation drastically.