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No escape from Gaza

June 11, 2007

Just when you might have thought it couldn’t get any worse for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, they are being imprisoned within their self-made hellhole by a religious fatwa forbidding them to leave their ‘blessed lands’.

Entitled “No Permission to Emigrate from Palestine,” the fatwa reads:

“There has been much talk in Palestine about emigration, especially among the young people, due to the difficult security and economic situation. This is being done in search of a better life abroad. Many are continuing to rush to the gates of the embassies and consulates of the Western nations with requests for visas in order to reside permanently in those countries.

“We hereby declare that emigration from the blessed lands is not permitted according to religious law. The people living in these areas must remain in their homes and must not leave them to conquerors. Those who abide by this ruling will perform an honorable deed and will support the Aksa Mosque.”

The Gazans’ favoured destinations are not the Islamic states of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Jordan or Syria. No: they want to emigrate to the US, Canada or Europe.

Meanwhile, as things go from bad to worse to much worse, many Gazans are pining for a return to Israeli occupation.

Bassem Al-Nabris, a Palestinian poet from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, wrote: “If a there was a referendum in the Gaza Strip [on the question of] ‘would you like the Israeli occupation to return?’ half the population would vote ‘yes’… But in practice, I believe that the number of those in favor is at least 70%, if not more – [a figure] much higher than is assumed by the political analysts and those who follow [events].

For the million and a half people living in this small region, things have [simply] gone too far – in practice, not just as a metaphor. [It did not begin] with the internal conflicts, but even earlier, in the days of the previous Palestinian administration, which was corrupt and did not give the people even the tiniest [ray of] hope. The fundamentalist forces which came into power [after it] also promised change and reform, but [instead, people] got a siege, with no security and no [chance of] making a living…

If the occupation returns, at least there will be no civil war, and the occupier will have a moral and legal obligation to provide the occupied people with employment and food, which they now lack.”

Yet, for other Gazans, there can be only one villain, past, present and forever: Israel — which, however, evacuated every last inch of Gaza almost two years ago.

It is from that prison of victimhood, blame and self-inflicted misery that the Gazans truly need to escape.

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