The international community is paying close attention to events in Gaza. UN resolutions, mass demonstrations, innumerable speeches and statements from politicians of all stripes. Yet one response is curiously absent. There have been almost no offers to take in refugees from Gaza.
It is commonly reported that Gazan civilians are suffering from a lack of water, food fuel and basic supplies. It is clear to anyone paying attention that Hamas should have provided for their citizens by building infrastructure that would protect their own population, that they should be sharing their huge stockpiles of fuel, water and food with them and that they certainly ought not, as reported by UNRWA (the UN agency responsible for the distribution of aid in Gaza), be stealing humanitarian supplies destined for non-combatants. However, as Mahmoud Abbas, the Head of the Palestinian Authority, has stated, Hamas has no regard for the people of Gaza and is willing to sacrifice them to protect Hamas. In case there was any doubt of the veracity of Abbas’ assessment, Mousa Abu Marzouk, who served as Deputy Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau made things crystal clear when he placed full responsibility for the protection of the Gazan people on the UN and Israel. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that a group that carried out unspeakable atrocities on October 7th would care little for the lives of its own civilians.
However, the wider international community does claim to be concerned about the welfare of the civilians of Gaza. Hence the outpouring of statements regarding their plight. What is instructive is that almost no one is offering to grant asylum to the civilian population. Egypt and Jordan announced that that they would not take in a single refugee. The other twenty Arab, and many more Muslim, states have not opened their doors either. European countries have not extended an offer of refuge with the notable exception of Scotland. The first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Humza Yousaf, who has relatives in Gaza, did call for Gazan civilians to be granted refuge. However, as matters of asylum are for the UK government to decide, he has no authority on the matter.
One might ask why there has been such an unwillingness to provide Gazans shelter from the horrors of war. Housing refugees is incredibly expensive, yet neighboring states opened their doors to millions of refugees escaping from conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. Is it because of the potential security threat they pose? If so, surely women, children and the elderly could be provided for. Or is it that the countries that loudly condemn the suffering of Gazan civilians simply do not actually care about them? The tragedy of the people of Gaza is that they are used by Hamas as human shields, as part of a public relations campaign to hamper Israel’s ability to fight Hamas. While the international community seems to be taken in by this campaign it only does so insofar as it wishes to use this as a stick with which to beat to Israel. Other than some limited pledges of aid, their concern for the Palestinian citizens does not seem to extend to a willingness to take practical measures to alleviate their suffering.
If governments across the world have failed to offer refuge to Gazan civilians, their populations have similarly offered little in the way of meaningful assistance. Although people across the world march in solidarity with the Palestinian people, in fact, they do them a great disservice. First, by not calling for the fall of Hamas, a brutal regime that cares nothing for the welfare of its own people. Second, as is typical with virtue signaling gestures – they allow themselves to feel they have helped those that are suffering, while demonstrating no desire to take the kind of action that might really help the victims’ cause.