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Disastrous economic conditions coupled with an air, water and land blockade have plunged more than one million Gazans into poverty. Many of them blame Israel for the crisis and grapple with the barrier separating the enclave from Israel to make sure their voices are heard.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are expected to cross the fence separating the enclave from Israel in several places in the coming days, unofficial sources in Gaza reported.

On Tuesday evening, demonstrations are expected in Rafiah, located in the southern part of the Strip. A day later, rallies will be held in Khan Younes.

According to Israeli media, the protests will take place at night and will likely involve gunfire, attempts to damage the security fence that separates Gaza and Israel, and the use of lasers to disrupt the activities of the Israel Defense Forces.

Such activities involving thousands of participants were common in 2018, when Palestinians launched so-called March of Return rallies after the US decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The protests were also aimed at expressing outrage at the ongoing blockade imposed by Israel.

But these stopped in 2020 following the COVID-19 epidemic in the Gaza Strip and the willingness of local authorities to curb the spread of the virus by banning mass gatherings.

A return

Now, it seems, these protests are making a comeback. Mohammed Al Batnaigi from the Al Shajaeya neighborhood in eastern Gaza City is one of those young people who pledge to participate in the protests.

Since their renewal a few days ago, the young man has already participated in many rallies, and he says he does so “to express his anger at Israel’s actions.”

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have lived under a sea, air and land blockade since 2007, when Hamas, a group considered to be a terrorist organization by Israel, seized control of the enclave, ousting those responsible for its rival, the Fatah.

The blockade has deteriorated the economic conditions of the Palestinians, pushing more than a million people out of work and into the poverty that follows.

For many, including Al Batnaiji himself, it also meant no hope for a better future.

“Israel has been punishing us civilians for many years. We live in poverty, we lack education and we have no future. So I participate in these demonstrations because I think that there is no ray of light that this suffering will ever end ”.

Israel has already indicated that if these protests and other provocations on the Gaza border continue, the Jewish state will have no choice but to launch a military campaign against Hamas which rules the Strip.

A recent campaign in the enclave – “Operation Guardian of the Walls” – which took place in May following a rocket barrage on Israel from Gaza devastated the Strip, causing millions of dollars in damage, and the belief in Israel was that it would deter the Palestinians from pushing the boundaries with Israel once again. But Al Batnaigi says the memory of past damage will not prevent protesters like him from speaking out.

“We already live in misery, our blood is shed and we are like the dead, so what else can Israel do to scare us? Really nothing.”

Internal divisions

Yet Israel is far from solely responsible for the crisis in the Gaza Strip, and Al Batnaigi says he also accuses Palestinian factions of failing to unite and promote their cause.

Relations between the two main factions have deteriorated since the ousting of Fatah from the Strip. Multiple efforts to ease tensions have yielded little results, something that shattered the position of the Palestinians on the world stage, hampered their efforts to raise funds for their cause, and pushed their economy into a deeper abyss.

“If only we had decent economic conditions, I wouldn’t participate in these protests and put myself in this dangerous position. Unfortunately, Fatah and Hamas don’t care about us, and this gives Israel the opportunity to continue attacking us. , and that means that there is no end in sight to our suffering. “

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