Voices From Gaza
Gaza: a place where dreams usually do not come true and the struggle for survival is on a daily basis. Dominated by Hamas and the constant threat of war with Israel, many young people choose to flee in the hope of a better and safer life overseas, despite the overwhelming risks.
Fleeing Gaza is a common phenomenon with approximately 35,000 Palestinians leaving the Gaza strip every year. Many of them arrive on the island of Leros in Greece and live in shelters, tents, and abandoned buildings in substandard conditions without electricity, water, or sanitary facilities – deprived of basic human necessities. These dilapidated buildings used to function as a psychiatric institution until it was exposed for embezzlement and human rights violations in 1989. Today it is still partially active. As more refugees continue to arrive on the island, the locals are slowly losing their patience. Their frustration, which is mainly due to the inadequacy of the Greek government and lack of support from the EU is, instead, channeled towards the refugees. As a result, these refugees are unable to integrate into society.
As an Israeli, I had a rare opportunity to meet young Palestinian refugees from Gaza who introduced me to the complexities of their lives. Many of them feared the meeting and did not agree to take part; others objected to expressing their opinions about Hamas – which Israel considers as a terrorist organization – out of fear for their families living in Gaza. Many Palestinians believe in peace but are afraid to expose themselves.