As I watch the goings on in Gaza during the war between Israel and Hamas, I am struck by the plight of the Palestinian population who are being shunted hither and yonder looking for safe refuge. The Israeli military implores them to vacate North Gaza, and once Israel has subdued Hamas in the North, they will then set their sights on South Gaza where so many of the Gazans have fled.
The unfortunate situation in Gaza is not much different than any other war zone, with the notable exception that Gazans have nowhere to flee. During the civil war in Syria, millions of Syrians (6.5 million) were able to escape to neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. In the ongoing strife in the South Sudan in Africa, over two million refugees have fled their country, having been able to find refuge in neighboring Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Ukrainians by the millions (almost 6 million) found refuge in Poland and other neighboring countries. But the Gazans? Who is letting them in? No one.
The most logical destination for Gazans would be neighboring Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza. Yet, the Egyptians refuse to take them in. U.S. Secretary of State Blinken asserted on November 5th that the “U.S. opposes relocations of Gaza Palestinians to Egypt.” And why is that? Why shouldn’t the Egyptians open their borders for humanitarian purposes to provide shelter for desperate Gazan civilians? There were reports that the Egyptians were fearful that inviting in the Gazans would provide a security threat to Egypt. There are other press reports arguing that displacing the Palestinians outside their country would amount to another Nakba – the great catastrophe occasioned by the dispossession of the Palestinians from their lands. Really? Don’t Palestinian lives matter?
Once again, the Palestinians are getting a raw deal. Not from Israel, but from the world — and Arab — community who treat them as unworthy of sanctuary – the result of which is more Palestinian suffering and more blame heaped on Israel for that suffering.