Cheryl Levi

Relocating Palestinians

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The health ministry in Gaza claims that over 20,000 innocent Palestinians have been killed in the war. Israel correctly points out that these numbers are likely to be false. The numbers have been put out by Hamas, and some of the people who have been killed are actually terrorists. But it is still safe to say that a large number of innocent Palestinians have been killed. The incorrect thing to say, however, is that it is Israel’s fault that so many Palestinians have died.

The Palestinians desperately want to get out of Gaza. Gaza has turned into a maze of open and closed-off pathways. Millions of Palestinians are constantly being shuffled around this maze in order for Israel to do the impossible job of protecting them while trying to eliminate Hamas terrorists.  While Israel cannot be blamed for doing everything it can in order to save them, this has created a huge refugee crisis. In addition, the UN organization that was put in charge of distributing food and medicines to Gazans (UNWRA) has been heavily infiltrated by Hamas and is diverting the aid to the terrorist organization.  People are starving, in need of medication, and have no homes.  They are living in a battlefield, and they are terrified for their lives.  Gazans just want to leave Gaza.

Israel would like nothing more than to allow the Palestinians out. It would make this war easier to fight, and far fewer Palestinians would get killed.  Israel has no interest in killing innocent Palestinians. But both Jordan and Egypt, the most obvious places for the Palestinians to go, are refusing to allow them in. Jordan is still smarting from the Palestinian’s attempted assassination of King Hussein in the 1970s. Egypt is not interested in welcoming huge amounts of Palestinian refugees into their borders for both security and economic reasons. The 22-member Arab league accuses Israel of their “effort to transport the population.”  The Palestinians are the victims of the political policies of their Arab brothers in Egypt, Jordan, and other Arab countries in the region.

The United States doesn’t take in Palestinian refugees either. In 2023 they took in a whopping 56 of them. In 2022, they took in 16 of them. This is because UNWRA does not offer the Palestinians resettlement referrals to other countries. And if you were thinking the US would help the Palestinians emigrate despite the bureaucratic issues and in light of the fact that they so heavily criticize Israel over humanitarian issues… think again.

And what about the European Union, you ask?  Well, two Israeli lawmakers asked the same question.  In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Danny Danon and Ram Ben-Barak called for countries around the world to accept a limited number of Palestinian families who want to emigrate. They cited other occasions when refugees of war were allowed into certain European Countries, and they asked why this case is not the same. “We simply need a handful of the world’s nations to share the responsibility of hosting Gazan residents. Even if countries took in as few as 10,000 people each, it would help alleviate the crisis.”

The response was cold. Some countries just expressed contempt, while at the European Union summit in Brussels, the Hungarian prime minister warned “Those who support migration also support terrorism”.

It seems like the Arab countries, the US, and the European Union want to keep Palestinians in Gaza, despite the fact that thousands are dying.  And they have no problem blaming Israel for their own sins.

Meanwhile, Palestinians are desperate to get out.  They are paying up to $10,000 in bribes to Arab brokers to allow them out through Egypt.  Payments are made in cash sometimes through middlemen in Europe and the US. One Palestinian man tells his story to The Guardian. He said that he paid $9,000 to these brokers to get his wife and children on the list to allow them out of Gaza.  On the day they were supposed to be allowed out, he was told that his children were not on the list, and he would have to pay an additional $3,000 to get them on the list so they could be allowed out.  He said these brokers were “trying to trade in the blood of the Gazans”.

Another American Palestinian, Balel, was told he would have to raise $85,000 to get his family of 11 out of Gaza.  He had desperately been trying to get his diabetic father out through the US State Department,  with no success. He says, “I’m in this situation because the US doesn’t want to help its own citizens”.

The US is not the only country guilty of this crime.  After failing to get help from the UK, a British citizen was told by Arab brokers that he had to raise between $6,000 and $10,000 to get his family out of Gaza.

If these Arab brokers are “trading in Gazan blood”, so are the countries that are locking them into Gaza.  The policy of the US and Europe has been established to appeal to those who do not want to see the Palestinian population relocated.  Anthony Blinken stated, “I’ve heard directly from Palestinian Authority President [Mahmoud] Abbas and from virtually every other leader that I’ve talked to in the region, that that idea  (relocating Palestinians) is a non-starter, and so we do not support it.”

Meanwhile,  Palestinians are so desperate to get out, that some have launched crowdfunding campaigns to raise the money.  Others are begging for help on Facebook.  Perhaps Blinken has spoken to every Arab leader, but he clearly neglected to speak to the Palestinians themselves.

While for their own political reasons the Arab countries, the US, and the European countries have no interest in taking in the Palestinians, according to MK Danny Danon, countries in South America and Africa have expressed willingness to take them in exchange for payment.  It is clear that if sought, solutions can be found for the Palestinian people.

Israel is constantly being blamed for the sins of others while, ironically,  they are the only country fighting to save these Palestinian lives.  Even at the risk of their own military efforts, they are warning the Palestinians to leave the soon-to-be military zones, creating humanitarian corridors, and are trying to get them humanitarian aid despite the fact that Hamas is stealing it from them.

I don’t know how history will judge the countries of the world for the way they treated the Palestinian refugees or the State of Israel during this war, but I do know that they should be judged.

About the Author
Cheryl Levi is a writer and a high school English teacher who lives with her family in Bet Shemesh, Israel. She has a master's degree in medieval Jewish philosophy and has written numerous articles about faith crisis in Judaism. Her book, Reasonable Doubts, was published in 2010.
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