Treating Gaza Residents as Seekers of Asylum

Every week, residents of Gaza stage violent protests at the border fence separating Gaza from Israel. These violent protests are endorsed and supported by Hamas which rules Gaza. The protestors’ stated goal is to return to homes inside Israel abandoned by their ancestors before Israel was founded in 1948. Some Gaza protestors use weapons to attempt to breach the border fence, attack Israeli border guards, launch incendiary balloons over Israel, and rush through the border fence to attack Israeli civilians. Israeli forces have responded to these violent protests with tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, and, occasionally, live ammunition.

To divert residents of Gaza from participating in these violent protests, we propose that, on a trial basis, Israel might treat civilians in Gaza as potential seekers of asylum in a third country. A refugee is a person forced to flee her home country due to persecution because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. An asylum seeker is someone who has fled persecution in her home country and seeks safe haven inside a different country in which she is physically present. When a person’s home country is Gaza, a refugee from Gaza is a person forced to flee Gaza due to persecution. An asylum seeker from Gaza is someone who has fled persecution in Gaza and seeks safe haven inside a different country. Thus, a person from Gaza who crosses the border into Israel is a refugee from Gaza and a potential asylum seeker in Israel.

Suppose that Israel distributes blank applications for asylum to civilians in Gaza. To complete the application, a resident of Gaza must specify the grounds on which she is persecuted, and the third country in which she will seek asylum. Every week, in the absence of violent protests at the Gaza border during the previous week, Israel would allow a limited number of Gaza civilians with completed applications for asylum in a third country to enter Israel through the Erez Crossing. The Israeli government would promptly furnish these Gaza civilians with official proof of denial of asylum by Israel, and place them, along with their completed applications for asylum, on flights to third countries of their choice.

About the Author
Ted Sheskin is an emeritus professor of industrial engineering and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, and Jewish Voice.
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