Source of hopelessness


The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) puts out a monthly report about the life condition in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In its latest report, OCHA stated that a record number of Palestinians from Gaza seek Israeli exit permits for medical reasons.

Working closely with the World Health Organisation, OCHA reported that as the requests have been on the increase so have the rejection.

Of the 2,275 requests made in October, Israel denied exit to 255 individuals, including seven children and 15 people over the age of 60.

Still waiting for an answer to their request are 19 per cent.

The persons applying for exit permission wanted to get medical treatment either in Israel, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) or Jordan.

The Oslo Accords, which the Palestinian president said from the UN rostrum Israel continuously violates, consider the West Bank and Gaza a single unit and stipulate safe passage between these two Palestinian areas that are separated by Israeli territory.

Palestinians in Gaza face at the same time another problem, namely the inability to use the southern Rafah crossing with Egypt.

By early December, the Rafah crossing point had been closed 300 days in 2015 alone.

Opposing Palestinian groups are trading blame over who is responsible for the problem, especially after the Ramallah leadership signed an agreement with the Egyptian authorities that would have the crossing point permanently opened.

The dire situation in Gaza is further exacerbated by the violent Israeli response to Palestinian protests at hotspot border crossings between Gaza and Israel.

The exaggerated Israeli use of live ammunition against Gazans has led to dozens killed; no Israeli soldier was reported killed or injured at these locations.

Palestinians, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, are angry and frustrated. Their hopelessness has resulted in individual acts of random violence.

Israel killed 124 Palestinians and injured thousands. Tens of Palestinian houses were demolished, in clear violation of international humanitarian law that bans collective punishment.

Even the corpses of killed Palestinians are not being returned in a sick act of punishment now being meted out to the families of the dead.

The violence has continued in part as a result of the absence of a political horizon for Palestinians.

During his recent visit to Israel and Palestine, US Secretary of State John Kerry failed to provide a glimmer of hope. If anything, at one press briefing he complained about Palestinians using knives and scissors!

The Obama administration has confirmed Palestinian worries that Washington had washed its hands of the Palestinians, not wanting another humiliating battle with the rightwing Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

White House officials declared that Palestinians’ aspiration at independence will have to be put on hold and that in their estimate, it will not happen during Obama’s last year in office.

Meanwhile, the only member of the Obama administration with deep and sympathetic knowledge of Palestinian suffering, Robert Malley, was moved to become the American tsar fighting Daesh and radical extremism in the Middle East.

Palestinian officials are preparing a major political offensive that will include strong attempts at various international forums, including the UN Security Council, but for most Palestinians, this route fails to promise much of a relief to their daily suffering.

PLO executive committee member Hanna Amireh told Al Monitor this week that the PLO plans to introduce, through the Arab League’s follow up committee, a strongly worded resolution on the situation in Palestine.

US President Barack Obama told Israeli officials that his government cannot continue to protect Israel politically in various international forums, including the UN Security Council.

Will the US president instruct his representative at the UN, Samantha Power, to behave differently at the UN Security Council? 

Highly unlikely.

US anti-terrorism officials made clear the relationship between the unresolved Palestinian conflict and the rise of radical extremism in the region.

The besieged population of Gaza and the Palestinians rising up in the West Bank are not likely to enjoy the current holidays, which combine celebrations of the birth of Jesus and Mohammad, as well as New Year celebrations. 

As the world looks at our volatile region and sees much more violent hotspots, it is important to note that keeping the Palestinian conflict unresolved will definitely continue to poison the air in the region and serve as an easy recruitment agent for extremists.

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