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The implications of the Israeli war on Gaza

Most of the news reporting and analysis concerning what is happening in Gaza has left out two crucial issues: the human context and the long-term implications of Israel's war against this impoverished territory.

Gaza, the place where I grew up, has not seen progress and development for decades. Since 2006, the situation there has worsened significantly with the imposition of a cruel military siege by Israel from land, sea and air. Over the years, Israeli policies towards Gaza have gradually expanded from occupying and de-developing Gaza, to the current so called "military operations".

Gaza has a young population of which, according to a 2012 UNICEF report "Unit for Children- Gaza Facts and Figures", 51 per cent are children under the age of 18. However, despite hardship and conflict there are high numbers of university graduates; 40,000 men and women graduate each year. Education is seen as a way out of the dispossession and disempowerment that they have experienced for decades. Furthermore, evidence suggests that they continue to seek hope despite this environment that is designed to generate despair.

Just last month graduates successfully set up IT companies marketing software applications worldwide via the internet. Their achievements are supported by international organisations including Oxfam. It was recently reported from Gaza that two graduates from the Palestine Information and Communications Technology Incubator Programme, Yasser Younis and Khalil Salim, are now the owners of the Motawiron mobile applications and software development company and are now competing with multinational companies. This example demonstrates what young people in Gaza want: freedom and opportunities to succeed.

Nonetheless, the basic but vital question not being discussed is that of the long term implications of the ongoing destruction and atrocities committed by Israel in Gaza.

Firstly, Israel has once again proven to the Palestinians and to the world that it is an aggressive state that employs systematic violence against civilian populations and only has military answers to this complex political issue. This is no longer acceptable when the tide of world opinion is turning and people on the streets are protesting what is happening in Gaza and sending a clear message that the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people must end.

Secondly, by attacking children in Gaza and bombing them in their homes, Israel is planting the seeds for continued injustice and despair amongst the younger generation of Palestinians in Gaza. These young people have only known violence, blockade, closure, destruction and aggression from Israel. Not only have they been deprived of their rights as refugees, but their hope for a better and dignified life is smashed with every bomb that falls.

Thirdly, one of the major consequences of this military assault is enforced separation. The narrative of war dominates. Human connections and the prospects for coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians radically decrease. As a result, dehumanisation and separation are being enforced by military might as the ultimate rule and way of life.

Finally, as the sound of bombing continues in Gaza, the possibility of creating a future that contains the promise of a just solution based on inclusive human rights and the ending of the military occupation becomes more distant. It is driven even further away than the two-state solution that has been jeopardised by the building of Israeli settlements and the siege of Gaza, amongst other factors.

Aggression, despair, separation and failure are the real implications that not only the Palestinians, but the rest of the world, are left with as a result of Israel's war against Gaza. As oppression and occupation continue unabated one question remains: has the time finally come to bid farewell to any hope for a better future and justice once and for all?

Yaser Alashqar is a Palestinian academic from Gaza; he currently resides in Ireland. His expertise includes conflict and human rights issues, civil society, Gaza and the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has taught courses in these areas at the Marino Institute of Education and Trinity College and has been published in the Near East Quarterly Journal. He also works as a consultant for the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in Ireland.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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