What If Americans Lived Like The People in Occupied Gaza?
By: Udochi Esomonu/ Arab America Contributing Writer
Palestine has had a long history of occupation by various countries, empires, and dynasties dating back to BCE. From being occupied by the ancient Egyptians thousands of years ago right down to being recently occupied by Israel. Gaza’s identity has long been reset and re-identified by the standards of a higher power. The identity and freedom of the people of Gaza today remains threatened as Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade–land, sea, and air—that actively restricts, limits, and prohibits goods, services, and resources from entering the Gaza Strip.
Gazans today lack access to clean water, proper food, electricity, stable and developed education system, proper medical equipment and pills, proper resources to advance and implement infrastructure, and other basic human necessities. This blockade has drastically caused Gaza’s economy to experience a decline, thus weakening the foundation of its economic stability and strength. This is the essence of a humanitarian crisis. For years now, Gazans have been prohibited from gaining access to the essential resources for proper human nourishment and advancement. This is no longer a question of politics or a fight for power, this has become a deliberate dehumanization of life, a deliberate violation of humanity. The reality of the Gazan experience is one of great suffering, inhumanity, and an inherent rejection of human rights protections.
Reality of Gazans
Truth is Gazans’ in the Gaza Strip’s don’t have access to basic human needs, freedom of movement, or even freedom of expression. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, it is now more important than ever to shine the light on the harsh truth of life in the Gaza Strip. The people of Gaza, due to the blockade have been disconnected and removed from the rest of the world and have been robbed of their own humanity, it is time for us to fully understand what this means for the people of Gaza.
As an American, hearing about the lives that Gazans live today fills me with great agony. There is a great feeling of agony and sickness in knowing that the values that I hold as an American and as a human being are nowhere in sight in Gaza today. The basic civil and human rights of the people of Gaza have been strictly restricted and limited for the sole reason of implementing and maintaining power. The long-term love affair with power and influence has come at the cost of many innocent lives and freedoms. With this in mind, I constantly think to myself, what if myself, as an American lived like the people in Gaza? What if Americans lacked access to clean water, nourishing food, electricity, the ability to freely move within their own towns, cities, and states, and lacked all freedoms that were granted to them in the Constitution?
What is Gaza?
Gaza is located on Palestinian territory found on the Mediterranean border, which borders.
How did the Conflict begin?
The history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict begins with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The establishment of Israel is rooted in the idea of Zionism–the national movement of Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic land of Israel–this desire for a Jewish state would be established in what is known to be Palestine.
It is in the territory of Palestine that the new safe haven for Jewish identity and freedom would be celebrated and strengthened. This strictly undermined the identity, statehood, and livelihood of Palestine and Palestinian people, thus leading to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, which was fought between the state of Israel and a coalition of Arab states in the fight for control over Palestine and its territories. Eventually, the state of Israel defeated the coalition of Arab states and till this day remains a sovereign, recognized global nation.
The Shape of Gaza Territory
As you can see in the picture of the map above, the Gaza Strip is a fairly-rectangular-shaped peace of land. The strip is about 25 miles long and is about three to seven miles wide. The Strip was deliberately carved out to be separated from both Israel and Egypt.
Who Lives in The Gaza Strip?
As of today, the Gaza Strip is known to inhabit mostly Palestinian Arabs. Palestinian Arabs are the people or the descendants of people who have lived in Palestine over the years who are largely culturally and linguistically Arab. Gaza is known to have one of the highest populations in the world, around 1.2 million people live here.It is expected that the population will continue to grow over the following years. Regarding age, most people in Gaza are under the age of 15, which means that many of the people affected by the lack of access to clean water, proper education, medical equipment, and food are the youth. It is the youth who struggle to remain healthy and remain educated. It is the youth who are constantly crying for help to live lives of freedom that many of their counterparts around the world live.
Why Aren’t Many People Aware of The Situation in The Gaza Strip?
People are not aware of the experience of the people in Gaza because it isn’t a story that is often told. Yes, people’s lives are being stripped from them in Gaza by higher powers, but many are still unaware that these atrocities are even occurring. As I live in America and constantly interact with Americans, I have noticed that many people were never even taught, let alone even discussed what Gaza is, what Palestine is, and the reality of life there today.
The truth is that many people just don’t know, there is still a disconnect of life between Gazans and the rest of the world. This is large impart the result of the blockade that they suffer from. If more people were taught about the history of Palestine and Gaza, I know that more people would know and even understand the depravity of humanity that they experience on a daily basis in their own homes.
What if Americans Lived like Gazans?
Imagine if as an American if your town or closest densely populated city was subjected to a blockade. Imagine if a group of people, in hopes of establishing their own state, declared New York City–including the five boroughs–their rightful territory to such a state establishment. How would the citizens of New York City feel? Would one’s allegiance and one’s identity as a New York citizen not be threatened and therefore, heightened?
Imagine if once the state itself is established in the territory of New York City, the citizens experience a blockade, where they are prohibited access to stable and developed education, safe medical equipment and pills, food, clean water to drink–as that is a reality in Flint, Michigan–road infrastructure, and experienced a sharp decline in the City’s economic development? What if citizens of New York were stripped of the civil rights granted to them as Nigerians and as New Yorkers? The entire city of New York would cease to exist. The foundation of the city remains no more as the things that once made the city what it is has been stripped, reshaped, and restructured to shape the needs of the newfound state that desires to be established in the territory of another’s home.
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