War and Peace: The Youth of Gaza360°ANALYSIS
Palestinians and Israelis cannot keep fighting for the rest of their lives; they must make peace.
I have lived and grown up in the Gaza Strip, one of the most dangerous places in the world. Despite only being 16 years old, I have seen death and destruction, and lived through tough experiences that are full of painful memories. I wanted to write this so I can show the world a different view of people in Gaza, especially the youth.
The struggle between Palestinians and Israelis has been going on for over 60 years. However, I believe that nothing is permanent — one day, there will be peace. Actually, I think it’s possible to make peace at any point, if the will is there.
I have left Gaza only once in my life to visit Europe via Israel and Jordan. On route, I went to have lunch in an Israeli restaurant. When I paid the bill, the cashier, who was Israeli, couldn’t believe I came from Gaza. The look on his face made me feel like I was an alien or something, but I shook his hand and we shared some laughs. It made me feel so relaxed because, at the end of the day, we are both human and have the same simple desires of life: We want to grow up, have a job and live a peaceful life full of joy. This encounter made me feel hopeful that one day peace will be achieved.
But the problem is the Israeli blockade of Gaza as it doesn’t allow Palestinians to go outside the territory, especially the youth. What the entire world sees in Gaza in terms of resistance and extremists is a consequence of the siege — and occupation — because the situation in the Strip is extremely difficult.
Gaza has a population of almost 2 million people who are crammed into a tiny stretch of land. In the coming years, Gaza will be the most densely populated area in the world. Some 43% of the population are 14 or below and 21% are between 15-24 years old. In addition, we have one of the highest unemployment rates worldwide. When these young people reach working age and the economy doesn’t provide opportunities and emigration is blocked, the consequences will be dire: social tension, violence and extremism as possible outlets, due to a lack of meaningful prospects and brain drain. The youth will become radicals and they won’t care about their future or anyone else’s, because they have not seen any other place than Gaza.
As a Palestinian teenager, I want to make peace. I want to live a normal life like millions of people around the world in places such as London, New York and Tokyo.
This means that Palestinians and Israelis will continue to live in fear and insecurity. Israel must end the siege of Gaza and make everyday people interact with one another. Without a culture of peaceful coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis, peace is not possible.
The siege is causing Palestinians in Gaza to suffer as a result of political decisions. In my opinion, the resistance is just a temporary phenomenon to achieve particular goals: to end the blockade and allow Palestinians to live in freedom and dignity in a state of their own.
But we cannot keep fighting for the rest of our lives. As a Palestinian teenager, I want to make peace. I want to live a normal life like millions of people around the world in places such as London, New York and Tokyo.
At the end of the day, Israel controls its future and ours. If Israel wants to make peace, then it should end the siege and make Israelis and Palestinians interact with one another. I am not saying it is going to be easy because both sides are full of hatred, but we cannot let our past control our future. Forgiveness starts today.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.