JAFFA, Israel – During the 10 years since Hamas’ election victory, unemployment in the Gaza Strip has reached 45 per cent, and the number of residents relying on foreign aid has hit 80 per cent, A Sharq al Awsat newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The Islamic movement won the first-ever democratic election held in the Palestinian territories, to which Israel responded by imposing a blockade on the Strip, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, with some two million people living in a 360 sq. km. territory.
Conditions in Gaza were exacerbated by the 2014 conflict with Israel that left tens of thousands of homes, schools, factories, and commercial centers in ruins. Industry in the Strip has ground to a near halt, with the blockade preventing the importation of raw materials. Last year, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency predicted that by 2020 the territory would be “uninhabitable.”
To mark the 10th anniversary since Hamas’ victory, local activists launched the hashtag #ten_years_of_siege, with which they tell stories of loss of hope and professional horizons, and bask in one common dream: to leave Gaza for good.
The Palestinian media has reported that Fatah and Hamas have resumed negotiations on the potential return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, in a bid to convince Egypt to lift the blockade on the Strip. International actors, including Egypt, Israel, and the PA have demanded a place for the PA in the government, especially control over border crossings, as a prerequisite for the lifting of the blockade.