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Feb-13-2011 13:58printcomments

Gaza's Egyptian Hope

The people of Gaza would not be the people of Gaza if they let this undermine their joy and their will to survive.

Gaza celebratio
Photo of Gaza celebration by Ken O'Keefe

(GAZA) - When the news from the overthrow of Mubarak came through, the people of Gaza flowed joyously into the streets. They celebrate the victory, they celebrate the Egyptian revolution, which has become the symbol of their own ambitions.

A people united in the struggle against the hated dictator, the strength of a community that has finally led to success. Who would have believed it a few weeks ago? That is what has given new hope to the people of Gaza, a patch of land where hope is hard to find.

You'd think that the revolution would cause the opposite here in Gaza. As the turmoil began, the border crossing from Egypt to Gaza was closed immediately. No one knows yet when or if it will reopen, the great fear is that it will fall back under Israeli control.

Many Palestinians are stuck on the Egyptian side, and for dozens of people in Gaza the expected departure has slipped into the distance. People with urgently needed medical care which is only possible to get abroad, students with visa for the long awaited freedom, are forced to wait.

Life in Gaza has become harder. Together with the border crossing all the tunnels closed as well. After the attack on the Mavi Marmara, Israel announced loudly to the media that it had eased the blockade, in reality this meant that the range of products increased, while the quantity decreased.

As a result, there are now Israeli Chips in the supermarkets whereas wheat flour is often threateningly scarce. But the people of today need more than bread to stay alive, and, above all, to stay alive in a dignified way. The almost cynical discourse about whether the people would starve in Gaza seems to completely ignore that aspect. And so the closing of the tunnels means for example that since then no fuel has come into Gaza anymore.

The queues at the petrol stations are endless, and those who go home unsuccessfully, keep their cars going with cooking oil. Every day when the power cuts, the power which used to be replaced by dozens of smoky and noisy generators, it is quiet now. Gaza is in the dark.

But because also the light of the media attention has moved from Gaza to Egypt, Israel seems to have seen the chance for attacks which the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has described as "ruthless attacks on civilian and humanitarian property", met by a "conspiratorial silence of the world public".

On the night from the 8th to 9th February, the Israeli military flew air strikes on Gaza in which ten people were injured, including two women and a child. One of the bombs struck a wood factory east of Gaza City, the fire destroyed several classrooms of the adjacent Al-Nour Maaref school, some shops and houses.

But what is worst for the people of Gaza is that also a medicine stock of the Ministry of Health went up in flames through the attack. Medicine donated by international delegations was destroyed, which has exacerbated the currently threatening lack of drugs further.

But if you think all that would prevent the people of Gaza from gaining new hope, then you are wrong. The mood on Gaza's streets was rarely so euphoric. It’s not only the hope that a new Egypt would develop a new policy toward Gaza, while until now its border policies have turned Gaza into a prison nonetheless.

Stranger than fiction Order Now

It is much more the faint hope that the spark of the revolution would also reach Gaza which especially the youth here has gained. Messages about the latest events are exchanged on Facebook and Twitter, and they celebrate the heroes of the Revolution as if they were their own heroes.

But the Egyptian solidarity demonstration from some young people was shut down with an iron hand by the Hamas government, the concerns of the Arab rulers had also reached Gaza. Not that the Fatah government would proceed differently with the demonstrators in Ramallah.

"The only thing in which the Palestinian parties are now united," said Marwan Barghouti, a celebrated Palestinian politician, "is the suppression of the human rights of their own people". And so the young people don’t really know against whom to rebel first. Fear mixed with uncertainty, not a good starting point for a revolution.

But the people of Gaza would not be the people of Gaza if they let this undermine their joy and their will to survive. Today Mubarak has fallen, today they are celebrating in the streets, and if Egypt manages the impossible, just but by the power of a community, then Gaza can do that too. At least in this moment, amid the celebrating crowd at Gaza's main road, you have no doubt in that.


Vera Macht lives and works in Gaza since April 2010. She is a peace activist and reports about people´s daily struggle in Gaza (

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